PerspectiveMicrobiology

When Being Hyper Keeps You Fit

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Science  19 May 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5469, pp. 1186-1187
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5469.1186

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Summary

What makes bacterial pathogens so invincible? The accepted dogma is that they are able to adapt rapidly to the changing environment of their host. In a Perspective, Rainey and Moxon discuss new evidence ( Oliver et al.) showing that the opportunistic bacterial pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, that colonizes the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, evolves a very high mutation rate. These mutators enable the bacterial population to adapt rapidly to the changing environment of the CF lung, despite the host's inflammatory response and treatment of CF patients with potent antibiotics.