Battling Bacterial Evolution Lab
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Question 1: What are the four basic characteristics that result in natural selection?
Answer: Natural selection is the term used to denote the process by which new species successfully evolve in nature("Evolution and Natural Selection," 2010). This is the result of interplay between fourphenomena.
a. Variation: even the members of population of species have identical genetic make up certain variation will exist among them. These variations are the result of gene recombination that occur during cellular replication and reproduction.
b. Inheritance: as parents contribute one half of offsprings genome via gametes the progeny can inherit variant traits as well as normal traits from their parents. This process is called inheritance.
c. Selection: certain change in environmental conditions at time will allow individuals with the variant traits survive better compared tonormal traits. Therefore, individual with variant trait successfully reproduce compared to normal ones. In other words, the variant trait is selected over normal traits.
d. Time: the successful variation can accumulate in a population over time following successive reproductive cycles causing the emergence of new species population from the original one
Question 2: Explain how bacteria encountering an antibiotic exhibit each of these 4 characteristics
Answer: Evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria is often used as an example for natural selection. The rapid reproductive cycle of bacterium allows for observation of such change in readily(Davies & Davies, 2010). Within a bacterial population there will be cells that possess genes, arising out of mutation or recombination, that can make them resistant to antibiotics (variation). However, during their normal course of growth these cells go unnoticed as the cells do not encounter antibiotics. However, the genes responsible for resistance can be transferred to subsequent progeny (inheritance). When the population is exposed to antibiotics thecells without antibiotic resistance are unable to survive and reproduce while the cells with resistance genes will survive and reproduce (selection) and over time a new population of antibiotic resistant bacterial population is produced.
Question 3: How was "cycling" supposed to slow the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria?
Answer: The cycling of antibiotic was predicated upon the idea that continuous exposure single type of antibiotic increases the chances of evolution of a resistant strain. Therefore, it was assumed that by cycling through different antibiotics in periodic fashion one after another prevent the bacterial populations to develop enough number of resistant cells to form a new resistant strain. This idea was designed on the based on the thought that when selection pressure in the form an antibiotic is changed with a new one any cells that would have evolved resistance to previous antibiotic will have no resistance to newly applied antibiotic and as such wouldn't have a selection advantage. This idea had already been successfully employed in preventing HIV from developing resistance to drugs.
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Question 4: What is a "model" in this case?
Answer: The model in a study attempts to explain how a systemworks and the factors affecting the same allowing for prediction how the system will behave(Ketchell, 2016). The model is usually is represented by mathematical equations and computer programs that are designed based on said mathematical proofs. These models then predict the outcome of the study when different variables that are being studied are altered. If the observed results fitthose that are predicted by model then its said to represent real world system and if the results do not match the model is then re-evaluated and redesigned to incorporate any variables or interaction that can account for the differing results.
Question 5: What situation did Dr. Bergstrom create a model of?
Answer: Dr. Bergstrom attempted to create a model for the antibiotic cycling study that was being proposed to reduce the chances of evolution of drug resistant bacterium. The model attempted to predict how resistance in bacterial populations might evolve and spread from one patient to another in a hospital environmentfollowing cycling of antibiotic. This model was designed by incorporating known factors such as rate at which single patient develops antibiotic resistant bacterium and chances of spreading of infection from one patient to another. The model then predicted the possible outcome of sequential cycling of antibiotics in an hospital study(Bergstrom, Lo, & Lipsitch, 2004).
Question 6: What did that model predict?
Answer: The model predicted that cycling of antibiotics as proposed would not work and would result in increased chances of formation of antibiotic resistant bacterium. The model suggested that since administration of one type of antibiotic to all patients as suggested in the study exposed a larger population of bacterium to the selection pressure i.e. the antibiotic. This in turn can improve the odds of a bacterial cellwith resistant gene encountering the antibiotic and getting increased chances of survival and successfully multiply compared to rest of the bacterial population.
Question 7: How did he test his model?
Answer: The model predicted the possible outcomes of the study in terms of incidence of resistant bacterium evolving over the course of time. The predicted dataset was then compared to the observed data. It was found that the observed data not significantly different from the data predicted mode. The concurrence between the predicted and observed results shows the designed model to be a valid one to assess the evolution of antibiotic resistance in hospitals. The validity model enabled the scientists to test alternate modes of cycling that was suggested by the model to effective in combating evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria. These approaches were found to be successful in subsequent trials.
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Question 8: What are some of the benefits of using a computer model to test an idea instead of an experiment?
Answer: Use of software models has numerous benefits(Ketchell, 2016). These include,
a. Risk free environment - models provide a safe way to test and analyse different what-if scenarios as its impossible to test all the possible combination of variables in a clinical setting.
b. Economical - since a good many experiments and their validity can be assessed through virtual experimentation, those studies that probably would not yield valid or useful data can be excluded during the planning stages itself thereby reducing the cost associated with experiment
c. Insights - as models can tests multiple variable and for longer time it allows for observing how the study will progress over time and probably identify unintended consequences
d. Accuracy - the simulated study can capture more details that can improve accuracy and predict the outcomes more precisely
e. Handling uncertainty - as the models can predict alternative outcomes it prepares researchers to better address any unexpected results.
f. Visualisation - models can often generate easily visualisable data and concepts that makes it easy for both researchers and layman understand the scope and results of study.
Question 9: How did this case study follow the scientific method? Give specific examples of the steps of the scientific method?
Answer: The process of scientific method involves making hypothesis based on observed phenomenon and then deriving prediction from these hypotheses as logical consequences(Andersen & Hepburn, 2015). Then experiments are done performed to test these outcomes. If the results of experiments are inline the outcomes predicted by hypothesis then the original hypothesis is assumed to be validand if not, the hypothesis is rejected. Dr. Bergstrom's study used known parameters to create a model that predicted the outcomes of the study.In this study the model represents the hypothesis and its predicted results were validated with actual clinicalexperiments. The model suggested that whole hospital cycling of antibiotic wont work and gave predictions regarding the same. These were then validated by the actual data that was gathered through experimentation which was found to in accordance to the data predicted by the model. So one may conclude that Dr. Bergstrom's study involved observation, formation of hypothesis, prediction and experimentation, all the required processes in scientific method.
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