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11: Control of Microbial Growth

  • Page ID
    • 11.1: Controlling Microbial Growth
    • 11.2: Using Physical Methods to Control Microorganisms
      For thousands of years, humans have used various physical methods of microbial control for food preservation. Common control methods include the application of high temperatures, radiation, filtration, and desiccation (drying), among others. Many of these methods nonspecifically kill cells by disrupting membranes, changing membrane permeability, or damaging proteins and nucleic acids by denaturation, degradation, or chemical modification.
    • 11.3: Using Chemicals to Control Microorganisms
    • 11.4: Discovering Antimicrobial Drugs
      Antimicrobial drugs produced by purposeful fermentation and/or contained in plants have been used as traditional medicines in many cultures for millennia. The purposeful and systematic search for a chemical “magic bullet” that specifically target infectious microbes was initiated by Paul Ehrlich in the early 20th century. The discovery of the natural antibiotic, penicillin, by Alexander Fleming in 1928 started the modern age of antimicrobial discovery and research.
    • 11.5: Drug Targets on Prokaryote Microorganisms
      Antibacterial compounds exhibit selective toxicity, largely due to differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell structure. Cell wall synthesis inhibitors, including the β-lactams, the glycopeptides, and bacitracin, interfere with peptidoglycan synthesis, making bacterial cells more prone to osmotic lysis. There are a variety of broad-spectrum, bacterial protein synthesis inhibitors that selectively target the prokaryotic 70S ribosome, including those that bind to the 30S and 50S subunits.
    • 11.6: Drugs for Non-prokaryote Microbes
      Because fungi, protozoans, and helminths are eukaryotic organisms like human cells, it is more challenging to develop antimicrobial drugs that specifically target them. Similarly, it is hard to target viruses because human viruses replicate inside of human cells.
    • 11.7: Mechanisms for Resistance
      Antimicrobial resistance is on the rise and is the result of selection of drug-resistant strains in clinical environments, the overuse and misuse of antibacterials, the use of subtherapeutic doses of antibacterial drugs, and poor patient compliance with antibacterial drug therapies. Drug resistance genes are often carried on plasmids or in transposons that can undergo vertical transfer easily and between microbes through horizontal gene transfer.
    • 11.8: Testing the Effectiveness of Antimicrobial Chemicals and Drugs

    Thumbnail: Scanning electron microscope image of Vibrio cholerae bacteria, which infect the digestive system. (Public Domain; T.J. Kirn, M.J. Lafferty, C.M.P Sandoe and R.K. Taylor).

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