News / Science & Technology

Acne Bacteria Found in Grapevines

FILE - Scientists were surprised to find the grapevines they studied harbored Propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium usually found on human skin and best known for causing acne.
FILE - Scientists were surprised to find the grapevines they studied harbored Propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium usually found on human skin and best known for causing acne.
You may think your teenage acne lasted a long time, but scientists have discovered grapevines have been carrying the bacteria that cause pimples for 7,000 years.

Named for the musical iconoclast Frank Zappa, scientists say it is the first time a bacterium found in humans has been discovered taking up residence all the way across the tree of life in plants.

Molecular biologist Omar Rota-Stabelli at Italy’s Fondazione Edmund Mach and colleagues were studying microbes living inside grapevines.

“There’s plenty of bacteria living inside plants,” he said. “And we know some are good bacteria for the plants. Some others are bad. Our study [aims] to understand what lives inside and if it's giving an advantage or not."

They were surprised to find that all the grapevines they studied harbored Propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium usually found on human skin and best known for causing acne.

The findings are published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution

Bacteria inside plants

P. acnes doesn’t give grapevines acne. At this point, it’s not clear what the bacteria is doing to, or for, the plant.

It’s not that uncommon to find human-associated bacteria on plants. Take, for example, E. coli, which usually inhabits the guts of humans and animals, but can contaminate fruits and vegetables and cause disease.

But those bacteria rarely stay for long. This strain of P. acnes appears to be living, among other places, inside cells in the center of the grapevine, called pith.  And it appears to have lost a critical DNA repair protein, which makes it hard to survive on the outside.

“This bacteria seems perfectly used to staying in the grapevine. It can’t live without [the] grape,” Rota-Stabelli said.

Prehistoric meeting

The scientists determined that the bacteria and the grapevine probably first got together about 7,000 years ago, which “perfectly matched when humans domesticated the grape. So, it really made sense,” he said.

Tending grapevines involves a lot of cutting, he said, opening up a route for the bacteria to move in. 

And pith cells are rich in fatty acids.

“These bacteria probably feed on those fatty acids, as they used to do on our skin,” he said.

When they first discovered P. acnes in their grapevines,

"My impression was, 'that’s contamination from the technician. No way,’” Rota-Stabelli said.

The technician was not especially acne-prone. 

“No, he’s very hairy,” Rota-Stabelli joked.

The Zappa Way

When further tests confirmed it was, in fact, P. acnes, they named it type Zappae, after the virtuoso musician known for such songs as, "Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow" and "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama."

Rota-Stabelli says he and lead author Andrea Campisano are fans. But it’s more than that.

“I think we behaved in a Frank Zappa way,” he said. Instead of assuming the samples were contaminated, “we thought in a different way and found something very unexpected.”

The next step is to look inside other plants to see if P. Zappae turns up in more unexpected places.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Daikanyama, TKO
February 22, 2014 8:38 PM
What is the matter you find acne bacteria in grapevines ?
What is good and bad for us ?
They mentioned that the bacteria and the grapevine got together about 7000 years ago when humans domesticated the grape, but so what?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid