What’s the best way to understand the reality of antibiotic resistance developing in bacteria? Set it up in a mega-sized petri dish.

A team of scientists at Harvard University have set up an elegant way to visualize the antibiotic resistance that bacteria develop as they are exposed to antibiotics over time.

The team created a giant (really: it was 2′ x 4′!) petri dish with bands of increasing levels of antibiotic. The lowest levels of antibiotic were along the edges of the plate, while the center had 1,000 times the amount of antibiotic that the bacteria can typically survive.

Over the span of just 10 days, the initially drug-susceptible bacteria conquered each successive level of antibiotic concentration. You can watch their beautifully dangerous progression across the plate in the video above.

Food for thought:

  1. What are the risks of conducting an experiment like this?
  2. What can we learn by studying the path and timing that the bacteria take across the increasing levels of antibiotic?
  3. What do you want to know after watching this video?

Read more about the experiment, set-up, and results in the original article.

Pesheva, Ekaterina. “A Cinematic Approach to Drug Resistance.” Harvard Gazette. Harvard University, 8 Sept. 2016. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/09/a-cinematic-approach-to-drug-resistance.


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