Researchers at Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London have depicted the main component of conjugation, the process by which bacteria exchange DNA with each other. This is how they become resistant to antibiotics.

Researchers have 3D visualized the key process by which bacteria acquire drug resistance.

During conjugation, bacteria can exchange genetic information that looks like DNA fragments. For example, these are genes that help withstand the attacks of conventional antimicrobial drugs.

The authors created imaging to find ways to stop this process and reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

The study of the conjugation process began as early as the 1940s, but the atomic details underlying the mechanism were unknown. Now scientists have presented a key part of this process for the first time.

The results of our work laid the foundation for research on how drug resistance is transmitted between bacteria. This information can also be used to suppress antibiotic resistance.

Thiago Costa, Fellow, MRC Center for Molecular Bacteriology and Infections
Cryoelectron microscopy images show that the outer membrane core complex is composed of two concentric rings of proteins. This structure is highly flexible. This is what helps her to transmit and receive information.