When it comes to fighting bacteria, it’s all about understanding the enemy. Bacteria are especially good at rapidly dividing; in fact, they are more efficient than cells at self-replication. Microbiologists at the Washington University, St. Louis decided to go straight to the root of the problem and find out how to turn bacteria into zombies that can’t reproduce.
The first step in shutting down bacterial replication was determining just why bacteria are so good at it, instead of just taking the fact for granted. Petra Levin (left), associate professor of biology at WUSTL, notes that “people spoke of the bacterial cell cycle as somehow magically coordinated even though there was no mechanism for doing so. Things just somehow worked out fine even though no control system had been identified.”