1887

Abstract

Evidence for ageing in symmetrically dividing bacteria such as has historically been conflicting. Early work found weak or no evidence. More recent studies found convincing evidence, but negative results are still encountered. Because bacterial ageing is believed to result from non-genetic (e.g. oxidative) damage, we tested the possibility that the negative outcomes resulted from the lack of an extrinsic damage agent. We found that streptomycin, which produces mistranslated proteins that are more vulnerable to oxidation, was able to induce both damage and ageing in bacterial populations. A dosage effect relating the level of damage to the concentration of streptomycin was observed. Our results explain the previous inconsistencies, because all studies that failed to find evidence for bacterial ageing did not use a damage agent. However, all studies that succeeded in finding evidence utilized fluorescent proteins as a visual marker. We suggest that ageing in those studies was induced by the harmful effects of an extrinsic factor, such as the proteins themselves or the excitation light. Thus, all of the earlier studies can be reconciled and bacterial ageing is a real phenomenon. However, the study and observation of bacterial ageing require the addition of an extrinsic damage agent.

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2012-06-01
2022-08-15
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