Bacterial battles

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 16 September 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:756
  1. Bernard Dixon, European contributing editor
  1. Biotechnology

    Microbes are relentless opportunists. Their metabolic versatility, their phenomenal growth rate, their capacity to change by mutation and genetic recombination, and their astronomical populations and heterogeneity mean that microorganisms can exploit with unique speed and efficiency any new niche that becomes available to them.

    We see the consequences of this opportunism in settings as diverse as the corrosion of North Sea oil rigs and the infection of indwelling catheters. Microbes of one sort or another are likely to benefit from virtually any change we make in the way that we live and organise the world.

    This includes methods of preparing and preserving foods. Whatever their merits, …

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