C2 | Thursday, October 7, 2010 | The Union | Section C LEARNING Humans vs. bacteria Even as weapons labs turn out new weaponry, other
labs turn out defensive count- er-measures; to which the weaponeers respond with counter-counter-measures.Ad infinitum … arms races never end.
Nor are arms races new.
Looking back half-a-billion years, the fossil record reveals creatures evolving mouths and teeth … shells to ward off those teeth … sharper teeth … thicker shells … mouth parts to drill through thick shells …. For three-plus billion years
before the evolution of mouths and teeth, single-celled organ- isms attacked their neighbors and defended themselves with poisons. The key to bio-chemical
warfare is selective toxicity - producing chemicals that poi- son your adversary, but not you or your friends. Humanity discovered such
microbial toxins - antibiotics - nearly a century ago. Antibiotics were so effective, some scientists believed they could vanquish disease. Such optimism failed to
account for bacterial versatility … and the bacterial world’s three-plus billion-year head- start.
No sooner had doctors
begun using antibiotics in the 1940s than antibiotic-resistant bacteria infected their patients. Antibiotic resistance no
doubt evolved billions of years ago, shortly after the evolution of antibiotics. But such resist- ance carries a price: it costs energy, and slows down growth, a disadvantage that, in an antibiotic-free environment gives a bacterium’s non-resist- ant cousins an edge in the competition for food and space. Inject an antibiotic into
the environment, however, and the non-resistant bugs die off, leaving the slow-growing but resistant strains to thrive. Antibiotics drive evolution, selecting for the resistant
ALAN STAHLER Soundings
minority. A high school student
mounting a science fair project, wishing to study the evolution of drug resistance,might begin by exposing bacteria to an unrelenting barrage of drugs … a common practice of industri- al agriculture … or mix antimicrobial chemicals into common consumer products, for instance, dish detergents and hand soap (despite evi- dence that antibacterial cleansers confer no advantage to the consumer, but do pollute our waterways, challenging myriad bugs to develop resist- ance).
Different bacteria resist
antibiotics in different ways: some, by pumping antibiotic molecules out of their single- celled bodies; others, by barring entry of the molecules in the first place; some can alter their metabolism so the antibiotic is no longer toxic; and some
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A “lawn” of bacteria (brown) grows on nutrient gel. Each disk con- tains a different antibiotic. Antibiotics to which bacteria are resistant create small zones of inhibition - bacteria grow close to such disks.
destroy the antibiotic molecule outright. The “blueprints” for resist-
ance are carried on genes. Bacteria inherit their genes as we do: vertically, from parent to offspring. But … … Bacteria can also inher-
it genes horizontally, passing genetic material from one to another.A bug resistant to one antibiotic can pick up resist- ance to other antibiotics from its neighbors. Antibiotic-resistant is not
new.What is new are “bugs” that are simultaneously resist- ant to many different antibiotics. Until World War II,most
battle-related deaths resulted, not from wounds directly, but from the infections that fol- lowed.Until antibiotics, infection was often a death sentence. It would be unfortunate
if, through unwise use, antibi- otics and antimicrobials were to become ineffective, forcing humanity to retreat to a time when infection all-too-often meant death.
Al Stahler teaches private and public science classes to students of all ages, and talks about science on KVMR radio (89.5 FM). He can be reached at email@example.com
CONTEST: Continued from C1
Billingham, second to Dario Rabak and third to Jed Lyon,all of Bear River High School in southern Nevada County. Their topic was “National Prohibition: Could It
Work for Tobacco?” All first-place winners, except those in second and
third grade,went on to state level competition. Kekoa Wong placed first in the grade 4-6 division,
Cynthia Davis took third in the grade 7-9 division and Cameron Billingham placed second in the grade 10-12 division.
Coloring contest Students in kindergarten through third grade par-
ticipated from Forest Lake Christian and Auburn Elementary. In the kindergarten division, first place went to Mia
Thompson, second to David Shumacker, third to Sadie Cuniberti and honorable mention to Mickey Taylor. In the first-grade level, first place went to Payton
Jones, second to Elyssa Bywaters, third to Savannah Chavez, and Gracie Welty received Honorable Mention. In the second-grade division, first place went to
Chris Papera, second to Alec Beall, third to Zachary Crawford and honorable mention to Jennifer Stenger. In the third-grade level, first place went to Zoey Lykins, second to Ethan Turner, third to Klarissa
GILFILLIAN: Continued from C1
grandfather, Ken Sikes, prepared the concrete to hold the benches in place. My uncle, Bob Sikes, and my grandfather are both Eagle Scouts. When the concrete was
ready, we filled each hole with cement with help from adult Gwen Fackrell.The benches had been made at our house over the summer, so we only had to put them in and check that they were level.
We made the ground look
good and covered the concrete at the legs so you couldn’t see it. When we were done, we
had extra concrete, so we used it to make the letters UHS in a dirt
LOPEZ: Continued from C1
concert productions, has spoken at exhibitions of the work of sculptor Michael Singer and pho- tographer Robert Adams, and has written about painter Alan Magee, artists Lillian Pitt and Rick Bartow, and potter Richard Rowland. He has collaborated with
playwright Jim Leonard Jr. on a production of his illustrated fable Crow and Weasel, which opened at The Children's Theatre in
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Eagle Scout candidate Billy Gilfillan.
area at the back of the amphithe- ater.
Minneapolis, and worked on a production of Coyote at Arena Stage in Washington D.C. The play is based on his book Giving Birth to Thunder. Lopez is a recipient of the
Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the John Hay Medal, Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Science Foundation fel- lowships, Pushcart Prizes in fiction and nonfiction and other honors. In 2004 he was elected a Fellow of The Explorers Club. Lopez grew up in Southern
California and New York City and attended college in the Midwest before moving to Oregon, where he has lived since 1968.
This event is supported by
Poets & Writers Inc. through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation.
From left are Christopher Papera, Payton Jones, Kekoa Wong and Mia Thompson, of Forest Lake Christian School in southern Nevada County.
Beaton, and Barrett Lichau received Honorable Mention. Mia Thompson,Payton Jones,Christopher Papera
the national level.
and Zoey Lykins all received first place at the state level. Payton Jones and Zoey Lykins took first place at
Next contest coming Contest rules are given out in October. Contact
Clarella Marriott at (530) 885-9159 or Edith Burnett at (530) 885-6600 for details.
Billy Gilfillan and Boy Scout Troop 855 send a big ‘thank you’ to contributors to Gilfillian’s Eagle Scout project:
Caseywood Gold and Green Hansen Bros. Enterprises Meeks Lumber B&C True Value Home and Garden Center Kelvin Grass, Union Hill School District
Scoutmaster Ken Newton
was there to offer support and admiration.
Inner Workings: Making Small, Effective Changes in Your Prose.
When the structure of an essay or short story seems solid enough, when ideas, images, and scenes are building well toward a conclu- sion, the piece can be made more vivid and memorable by employing some of the tech- niques poets rely on.
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