April Fools Day – Genetic Mutation Found to Cause Cannibalistic Urges in Bacteria

April Fools Day – Genetic Mutation Found to Cause Cannibalistic Urges in Bacteria

[Update: This post was a bit of April Fools Day Fun. The reveal post is here]

New research published today in the Annals of Victus Mortuus describes a very unusual genetic mutation in Staphylococcus Rabia that results in a stark behaviour change.

When the mutation was introduced the bacteria showed several changes in characteristics, including the following:

  • Lack of fluidity of movement
  • Spontaneous loss of soma
  • No response to dangerous stimuli
  • Change in dietary habits
  • Aggressive attacks on other S. Rabia cells

The slow stuttering movement of the bacteria can be seen in the video below:

Dr Romero, who was principle investigator in this study said “This is the first time such behaviours have been engineered in bacteria and has great potential therapeutic benefit”. He continued “one of the major obstacles in the first against infection is the protection the bacteria get via qourum sensing. If we were able to manipulate some of the cells in a qoura to have these behaviours it would disrupt the bacteria’s defences allowing intervention with traditional antibiotics.”

Figure 1: The mutated Staphylococcus Rabia in top left can be seen attempting to attack and consume the wild type in the bottom left

The team, from the WGON lab in Pittsburg, used a P Lmbda Zd39 vector to introduce the mutation into cells and then selectively chose those colonies that took up the mutation. Interestingly when the colonies were pure it was noticed that the mutated bacteria would not attack each other, only the wild type.

According to Professor Raimi author of Nyturan Demonta “this discovery has great potential. We would potentially use this as a means of pest control. If we engineered rats to attack each other it would be an environmentally friendly way of controlling their population.”

The true potential of this research is yet to be known


GA Romero, D Boyle, E Wright (2011). Missense mutation in Staphylococcus Rabia (Δ28DL) resulting behavioural changes Annals of Victus Mortuus