Insight into the evolution and adaptability of human-symbiont bacteria that divide lengthways
It’s not easy, living in a mouth. Aside from the constant threat of chomping, or being washed away with a meal, the skin cells available to cling to are constantly shed and replaced. Despite this, the thriving bacterial communities in our mouths rival those in our guts – and this Conchiformibius steedae bacterium may hold clues to why. Unlike many rod-shaped bacteria its cells divide longitudinally (splitting lengthways like a chopped log) and remain stuck together after division forming multicellular filaments. Here, differently-coloured fluorescent stains highlight spines between cells in the overall structure – which can grow to the size of small caterpillars. C. steedae’s cells work together – researchers believe this is key to how they adapt to the harsh oral environment. They may make fascinating model organisms to design and test new antimicrobial drugs – and they’re easily found, around half of us may have C. steedae in our mouths.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.