Notorious antibiotic resistant 'superbug' MRSA has been filmed actively moving, despite previous understanding that it was a static organism. Staphylococcus aureus is a common type of bacteria that can cause skin infections, and turns deadly when entering a skin lesion, causing blood poisoning or endocarditis.
Scientists from the universities of Nottingham and Sheffield showed that the methicillin antibiotic resistant MRSA bacteria is actually mobile, even though it has no propulsive tail or appendages. This is the first time scientists have seen this movement, and it means experts can begin targeting the mobility of the bacteria in their search for a vaccine.
"Using high powered microscopy, we saw that the bacteria can spread across the surface of an agar plate in structures that we have called 'comets,'" said Steve Diggle, researcher from the University of Nottingham. "After 8 hours of colony growth, the comet heads are the main source of movement. Cells in the tail follow the comet heads for a while, while bacteria further away no longer move. Our time-lapse video shows the whole remarkable process."
The study published in Nature, found that the comets are made of a mixture of MRSA proteins and slime. It was also found that tracks were left behind in the agar – an algae-based jelly substance – in certain conditions. These tracks are visible in the time-lapse video recorded by the researchers.