Sunday, 26 July 2015

Why Is the 'Intelligent Designer' Siding With Bacteria?


Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Source: New Scientist
Image Credit: Juergen Berger/Science Photo Library
Fitness cost of antibiotic susceptibility during bacterial infection - Science Translation Medicine

You know, if you buy into the Intelligent Design hoax, it's becoming harder and harder not to conclude that the Intelligent Designer created Earth for bacteria and that higher life is simply somewhere for bacteria to live and something for them to live off.

We are used to seeing bacteria evolving resistance to the antibiotics human science creates to help us win the struggle against the bacteria that seem to randomly make us sick and even kill us, striking the pious and impious; the sinners and the saintly alike and in equal measure, as though whatever is designing and redesigning them is on the side of the bacteria.

Now we find that not only does antibiotic resistance overcome human endeavours and attempts to protect ourselves and our children, but it actually make bacteria stronger and better at doing the thing they were apparently designed to do - make us sick and die - if the evidence presented in this recent paper is to be believed.

Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, USA have found that resistant bacteria do not in fact carry a 'fitness cost' as had been widely assumed, but actually become more efficient at colonizing (infecting) the lungs of experimental mice and rabbits. This adds to the growing body of evidence that evolving resistance doesn't carry a cost because it involves genes that are needed for other processes and despite the observation that resistant strains generally grow more slowly than non-resistant strains.

Sadly, the paper sits behind a paywall, so we only have the editors summary to go on:

Fit foes

Myriad publications from Consumer Reports to Mother Jones have warned us about the pending peril that is antibiotic resistance. Scary survival statistics and gloomy graphs that depict decreases in new antimicrobial drugs over time make clear the damper resistance puts on our ability to keep infectious diseases under control. Now, Roux et al. add another unwelcome wrinkle to the scenario—in addition to limiting our repertoire of curative drugs, antibiotic resistance also appears to enhance microbial fitness and virulence. Most studies have investigated the selective advantage sported by drug-resistant strains during antibiotic treatment. But outside of the therapeutic arena, the phenotypic changes that confer drug resistance are thought—without experimental validation—to be accompanied by the dampening of in vivo fitness, virulence, and transmission. In the new work, the authors used a saturated transposon library of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to pinpoint genes that contributed to in vivo fitness during lung infections in animal models and found that genes that conferred both intrinsic and acquired antibiotic resistance also imparted an in vivo fitness advantage to Pseudomonas during infection. The authors confirmed their findings in two additional pathogenic bacteria—Acinetobacter baumannii and Vibrio cholerae—in mouse and rabbit infection models. Together, these findings warn that the fight against antibiotic resistance might be harder than we thought, given the enhanced fitness and virulence of our drug-resistant adversaries.*

R. Roux et al.,
Fitness cost of antibiotic susceptibility during bacterial infection;
Science Translational Medicine, doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aab1621, 2015.

*Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This increased efficiency was found in three seriously pathogenic species of bacteria: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, responsible for a range of infections, especially in people with compromised immunity; Acinetobacter baumannii, a serious hospital-acquired infection; and Vibrio cholera that causes cholera. This work challenges the assumption that one way to overcome antibiotic resistance is simply to stop using them and allow natural selection to eliminate the less fit resistant strains and promote the more fit, antibiotic susceptible strains.

Proponents of Intelligent Design traditionally insist that evolution doesn't happen and insist that any genetic changes are the result of magic by an intelligent designer (but not God, mind you, because that would make ID a religion and thus be barred from being taught in US public schools - it's just a coincidence that ID proponents are also religious fundamentalists). So, if they are to maintain that position, they now have to explain why this intelligent designer seem to favour bacteria and is apparently siding with them in their arms struggle with human science. What other possible reason could there be for it seeming to outwit us at every turn?

Obviously, it can't be evolution by natural selection because that isn't in the Bible and so doesn't happen (not that the Bible has anything to do with it, remember, because that would be religion!).


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1 comment :

  1. Just another of the ways that humans are contributing to our own downfall- in the end, it may well be the bacteria that win the evolutionary arms race.

    Maybe our divine creator is a great, bearded Acetobacter in the sky that has created bacteria "kind" in its own image.

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