By Gurkamal Kaur, Janki Patel, Tenging Lama, Helen Liu, Gregory Poterewicz
The growth of antibiotic resistance is quickly becoming a global public health concern. Infections caused by pathogenic bacteria are becoming increasingly difficult to treat due to the misuse, overuse and abuse of antibiotics. In addition, infections caused by some harmful strains of bacteria, particularly gram-negative bacteria, cannot easily be treated with antibiotics or other common forms of treatment. To combat this issue, E. coli were engineered to recognize the pathogenic bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and produce the antimicrobial peptide melittin in response. In order to do so, nonpathogenic E. coli were transformed with plasmids that control the production of melittin and the reception of communication signals from cells of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.