Charitable bacteria protect vulnerable sisters from antibiotics

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Humans are capable of great charity, taking hits to their bank accounts and bodies to benefit their peers. But such acts of altruism aren’t limited to us; they can be found in the simple colonies of bacteria too.

Bacteria are famed for their ability to adapt to our toughest antibiotics. But resistance doesn’t spring up evenly across an entire colony. A new study suggests that a small cadre of hero bacteria are responsible for saving their peers. By shouldering the burden of resistance at a personal cost, these charitable cells ensure that the entire colony survives.