A Bolt of Blue-Green

Dr. Geeta Sundar, M.B.B.S.

I don’t know the exact time of my birth. I guess, for me, for my species, it was never about the how we came to be what we are, but rather, our insistence to persist and to survive through the ages. To someone reading this, it might be an autobiography, a kind of an indulgent story of my life, but to me, it represents the journey of my existence.

A human by the name of Carle Gessard, a French chemist and bacteriologist, learned of my presence. He discovered my species when he exposed UV light to water and found one of my stellar abilities of turning blue-green. Since then, the news about what I am, who I am has spread far and wide. I gather that by now, you must have some faint idea who I am. If not, you must have at some point seen me notoriously hiding out in the wakes of hospital corridors, the ventilators or even the crazy tubes draining the human body fluids.

Humans have tried to classify me, name me, bundle me up to fit their definitions, their requirements, by calling me gram negative, labelling me a rod shaped, flagellated, ubiquitous and obligate aerobic bacteria; but at the soul of it all, I stand by what I was created for.  My dwellings across waterbodies and soil have been ransacked and humans have found ways to dissect me, pull and attach my siblings, my family, my species onto slides and study us. I have been compelled to prodding, probing and enquiry. Humans have removed the purity and sanctity of my privacy. There is always some human injecting harmful, toxic drugs that kills scores of my family, or forcing us to grow and multiply on skimpy dishes, while they watch under huge microscopes. A bit harsh, don’t you think? But then again, humans aren’t the most sensible or even sensitive when it comes to other species and their feelings, are they?

There is a work of art in my survival method, if you must ask. How did I manage to elude extinction despite the suppression? There is a carefully executed process and approach to making me one of the most powerful species there ever was. An evolutionary aid, of course.  When there is a goal for global dominance, how can one oppose or resist? I am as described – a pathogenic microorganism, who likes to indulge and invest in harming the human species. That is my joy, my livelihood, my days’ worth. It is what makes me…me.  And I am proud of who I am and what I am capable of.

I have finally broken barriers, and decided to collectively show the world that something as tiny as me is not be taken lightly. Facing all the unscrupulous hazards led me to a revolution. Years ago, it started as a combined battle against one drug. A weak momentum, we lost even before we had the ability to mount up a strong resistance. We lost that round, but our greed for survival brandished everything else. We rose up again, in unity, to enhance our wave of collaboration, by transferring amongst ourselves a multitude of plasmids with deactivating enzymes and efflux pumps. And with time and each outbreak, we became smarter and cleverer. It didn’t matter which drug it was, or what the dose was. It didn’t matter how often we were subjected to harsh conditions. All that mattered was winning the war. So, out came the motile flagella, the adherent pili, the nefarious biofilm blanket, the siderophores and most importantly, a genius production of our toxins – that behave as our thoughts, our essence and depicts our individualism.

We could care less what humans make of our toxins. Clone them, try to detoxify them. Every change made to our DNA to make us more submissive, more receptive to the drugs, only fuels our desire to reach the pedestal. We have been kind, more than humans give us credit for. We have restricted our attack to the only intensely ill. And when push comes to shove, because it will, mark my words, we will strike back in more complex ways, with permutations and combinations of our DNA in ways that humans will take eons trying to figure out before they create mechanisms to cease our power. And even in the instance that they do manage to outshine our schemes and stun us momentarily, or try to even use our friends against us, rest assured, we will fight back.

We are here to stay. For long. Our end, I predict will occur only when our hosts terminate. And so, for the foreseeable future, my message is simple. Humans may have taken us to outer space, destroyed our habitats, poured cold drugs into our homes, but we will not perish. We will evolve and fight till our drying annihilation; be it, across borders, across the ugliness of the world or across the looming dangers of technology.

References:

  1. https://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Pseudomonas_aeruginosa
  2. https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/34/5/634/317893
  3. https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/43/Supplement_2/S49/332756
  4. http://cmr.asm.org/content/22/4/582.short
  5. https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/34/3/340/387612
  6. https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/41/5/754/331908

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