The University of Massachusetts Amherst

In Pictures

  • Agar plate covered with bacteria in yellow and three spots with antibiotics.

Microbial Warfare: Harnessing Toxin Ecology to Fight Disease

The image above shows the power of bacterial-produced toxins (bacteriocins) to inhibit the growth of pathogens. The agar plate shows a “lawn” of growing bacteria (yellow-gold). The three filter papers (brown dots) on the plate show the broad spectrum antibiotic gentamycin (right), the bacteriocin (left) and a combination of the two (middle). The traditional antibiotic and the bacteriocin show similar killing abilities. The combination of the two shows a greater impact. Biologist Margaret Riley and her lab at UMass Amherst are investigating how these toxins evolve, what role they play in the ecology of the microbial world and how they can be used to fight against microorganisms that produce disease. Learn more.

Photo credit:  Suphan Bakkal and Sara Cody