This is a very general question regarding the potential use of artificially modified plasmids to block or modify bacterial evolution in order to prevent development of anti-biotic resistance.

For example the most crude example might be to modify a suitable plasmid with some gift for target bacteria but also to add a mechanism to block their pili after delivering the gift.

If this general principle was practical, there would be huge scope for ingenious biologists to create a plethora of ideas to modify bacteria is many ways to our advantage, even to the extent of creating completely artificial plasmids for such purposes.

My question is twofold: Is this likely to be a valid approach for modulating bacterial evolution to our purposes, and if so, is there already research in progress in this field?

Of course, in the example above, the gift from the plasmid must significantly benefit the plasmid and the poison mechanism must be delayed long enough for a large % of the biofilm-bound bacteria to be infected by the poison before it takes effect. Also the plasmids must include their own slow-acting poison/fast acting antidote to deal with reproducing cells that do not contain the plasmid. A more subtle approach might be a gift that did not kill the bacteria but modified them to be significantly less virulent.


closed as unclear what you're asking by March Ho, rg255, AliceD, James, WYSIWYG Jun 10 '16 at 7:02

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    $\begingroup$ You can't artificially modify bacteria, decreasing their fitness in an environment containing antibiotics, and then expect them to outcompete bacteria which resist antibiotics. $\endgroup$ – March Ho May 29 '16 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ This will not work since having these bacteria means a strong advantage over bacteria which do not have them, so they will be overgrown. $\endgroup$ – Chris May 29 '16 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris Unless the antibiotic in question is currently present, there's no competitive (dis)advantage. Evolution happens without foresight, so it's entirely plausible that a deleterious mutation might sweep a population under neutral conditions. This mechanism is plausible enough that similar mechanisms were (are being?) researched to outcompete wild strains of viruses. $\endgroup$ – Konrad Rudolph May 31 '16 at 21:34

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