Harvard scientists reveal time-lapse film showing the spread and evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This remarkable and rather terrifying time-lapse film shows bacteria evolving as they change to fight (and consume!) higher strengths of anti-bacterial drugs.
In a creative Spielberg-like stroke of Hollywood wizardry, Harvard scientists designed a way to observe how bacteria move as they become impervious to drugs.
Filmed to show the evolution of bacteria on a huge Petri dish measuring 2′ by 4, the film reveals a remarkable lab experiment that portends infectious disease catastrophe for global health. The experiment, conducted by scientists at Harvard University Medical School , used nine bands with different amounts of antibiotic in the agar – from a low concentration at the edges to an ever-increasing concentration at the middle. The background is dyed black with ink and the bacteria appears as white on top of it.
First, the bacteria spreads at the sides where there is no antibiotic, until it reaches the next band, when a mutant bacterial form evolves to survive the antibiotics and spreads. At the next band, it battles more antibiotic, and wins, as it mutates again – and again and again until it reaches the center. At the center, the antibiotic is 1000x its first concentration.
As the video explains: “Bacteria can evolve resistance to extremely high concentrations of antibiotic over a brief time period.” The experiments provide a large-scale glimpse of bacteria as they encounter ever higher doses of antibiotics and adapt to survive – and thrive – in them.