For over a century, scientists have studied E. coli, one of the bacteria that cause food poisoning, as a model for fighting infections. Such research has led to a variety of antibiotics that penetrate the protective cell walls of bacteria to kill them.
Now, a multi-university study led by Stanford bioengineer KC Huang reveals that E. coli has managed to keep a big secret about its defenses. He and his collaborators report in Nature that scientists had overlooked the astonishing physical strength of the thin outer membrane that clings to E. coli’s stout cell wall.
Co-author Amanda Miguel is a 2016 and 2017 ARCS Fellow.