Antibiotics Without Resistance?

Posted By: Paul   |   Learning Resources   |   4 Comments

Hey, everybody.  I’m posting an awesome video lecture by a researcher named Bonnie Bassler.  Bassler is a molecular biologist at Princeton University.  In 2001, she discovered that bacteria use a form of group communication that researchers now call quorum sensing.  It’s like birds in a flock somehow knowing which way to turn all at once.  It’s a small observation that carries huge implications for medicine.  Bassler is a great speaker, and you should enjoy it no matter what your science background.

There are two versions, depending on how much time you have.  The longer is more complete, and talks more about the implications, but it’s 74 minutes.  If you want a quick and dirty version, try the shorter one first.  Enjoy!

74 Minutes:


19 Minutes:


  1. Ashlee September 24, 2010 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    That was awesome! Thanks for posting this. It was so interesting. =)

    • Paul K. September 25, 2010 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      Thansk Ashlee. I got a lot out of it too. Who knows, we may be prescribing medications based on this work in the future.

  2. Morning-Rounds September 25, 2010 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    This gives me some pause, these “new age” antibiotics. Especially the ones she was describing that would be the new “broad spectrum” anbx. I know that we have them now, but they are not as broad as she implies in the Ted talk. If all bacteria really do have this global inter-species conversation, what would happen if we blocked this. Because if this pathway truly is universal to all species would we not be harming the “vital-life sustaining” bacteria too? Again, I know we have this now, but not to the degree she is implying. It seems as though we will be facing a bigger issue than just giving someone a mild case of diarrhea if there really is a universal language between bacteria and we shut it down regardless if they are good or bad.

    • Paul K. September 25, 2010 at 8:09 pm - Reply

      Good point! It may mean that the species-specific QS chemicals are a bigger player in the near future. They are currently trying to inhibit them, so groups of pathogenic bacteria believe they are alone. The other way is to produce synthetic versions so that smaller colonies overcomit themselves before they have the right numbers to do more damage.

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