Scientists Track Evolution of Microbes on The Skin's Surface
Published:11 May2023    Source:Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In a new study, researchers at MIT and other institutions have discovered that this microbe can rapidly evolve within a single person's microbiome. They found that in people with eczema, S. aureus tends to evolve to a variant with a mutation in a specific gene that helps it grow faster on the skin.
This study marks the first time that scientists have directly observed this kind of rapid evolution in a microbe associated with a complex skin disorder. The findings could also help researchers develop potential treatments that would soothe the symptoms of eczema by targeting variants of S. aureus that have this type of mutation and that tend to make eczema symptoms worse.
"This is the first study to show that Staph aureus genotypes are changing on people with atopic dermatitis," says Tami Lieberman, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and a member of MIT's Institute for Medical Engineering and Science. "To my knowledge, this is the most direct evidence of adaptive evolution in the skin microbiome."
Lieberman and Maria Teresa García-Romero, a dermatologist and assistant professor at the National Institute of Pediatrics in Mexico, are the senior authors of the study, which appears today in Cell Host and Microbe. Felix Key, a former MIT postdoc who is now a group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, is the lead author of the paper.