Research Highlights: Microbes work together to form drug-tolerant communities

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Microbes work together to form drug-tolerant communities

  • Microbial communities comprise cells with different metabolic capacities and may include auxotrophs.
  • Auxotroph is an organism, usually a mutant bacteria, that cannot synthesize substances needed for its growth and metabolism.[1]
  • Researchers analyzed amino acid biosynthesis pathways in auxotroph from microbiome data of more than 12,000 natural microbial communities.
  • Researchers also examined the auxotrophic-prototrophic interactions in yeast communities.
  • Researchers discovered a mechanism that links auxotrophs to an increase in metabolic interactions and anti-microbial drug tolerance.
  • The auxotrophs have been observed to obtain altered metabolic flux distribution, export more metabolites, and as a result, enrich the community in metabolites.
  • Metabolites are intermediate or end-product substances produced by metabolism.
  • These capabilities observed from auxotrophs may be the consequence of the metabolic adaptations required to use specific metabolites.
  • Additionally, researchers observed that the increased metabolite exportation was correlated with the decrease in intracellular drug concentrations.
  • The reduction of intracellular drug concentration allows microbes to grow even at drug levels above minimal inhibitory concentrations.
  • Minimal inhibitory concentration is the lowest concentration of drugs that can inhibit the growth of bacteria.[2]
  • Researchers demonstrated that an antifungal compound called azoles did not significantly eliminate yeast cells that use metabolites from a metabolically-enriched environment.
  • The results describe a mechanism that enhances our understanding of why cells are more tolerant to drug exposure when they metabolically interact.


Yu, J.S.L., Correia-Melo, C., Zorrilla, F. et al. Microbial communities form rich extracellular metabolomes that foster metabolic interactions and promote drug tolerance. Nat Microbiol (2022).



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