Salmonella’s Achilles’ Heel: Reliance on Single Food Source to Stay Potent
Scientists have identified a potential Achilles’ heel for Salmonella – the bacteria’s reliance on a single food source to remain fit in the inflamed intestine.
When these wily bugs can’t access this nutrient, they become 1,000 times less effective at sustaining disease than when they’re fully nourished.
The research suggests that blocking activation of one of five genes that transport the nutrient to Salmonella cells could be a new strategy to fight infection.
"For some reason, Salmonella really wants this nutrient, and if it can’t get this one, it’s in really bad shape,” said Brian Ahmer, associate professor of microbial infection and immunity at The Ohio State University and lead author of the study. “If you could block Salmonella from getting that nutrient, you’d really stop Salmonella.”
“That was one of the big surprises: that there is only one nutrient source that is so important to Salmonella. For most bacteria, if we get rid of one nutrient acquisition system, they continue to grow on other nutrients,” Ahmer said. “In the gut, Salmonella can obtain hundreds of different nutrients. But without fructose-asparagine, it’s really unfit.”