How does Penicillin kill bacteria?

Answer by Delfina T. on May 11 2009

Penicillin is an antibiotic that has a beta-lactam ring. This beta-lactam ring prevents bacteria (mainly gram positive bacteria) from building up their cell walls. It prevents peptide cross-linking between the sugars (NAG & NAM) that make up the peptidoglycan cell wall. Without this, the bacterium loses much of its survival function and is rendered susceptible to immune system elimination. So, in summary, it breaks the "shell" around bacteria, destabilizing them and decreasing their ability to survive in the body. Most of them just plain old die without the cell wall.

Why has penicillin evolved in a way that it kills bacteria?

On the outer coating of gram-positive bacteria there is a substance called peptidoglycan that essentially holds the bacteria together, penicillin is a enzyme that will destroy this peptidoglycan and kill the bacteria

This would evolve to kill bacteria because Fungi and bacteria share a food source, deterius. Evolution would favor a fungus that could kill bacteria and consume all of the food that the bacteria normally would have eaten

What bacteria does ampicillin and penicillin kill?

Hi, I did an experiment where we tested e.coli and the effect of certain antibiotics on the growth of bacteria. But the ampicillin and penicillin used in my test did not work - are these antibiotics supposed to kill bacteria?

Yes, they used to be able to kill most bacteria. The discovery of penicillin and the later synthesis of penicillin-like antibiotics were considered 'wonder drugs' and cured many infections and diseases in the 1940's-1960's. They saved many lives during WWII by curing many infections.
The problem is that these drugs were too widely and too easily prescribed, so there are now many strains of various bacteria that have become resistant to them. It is possible that the bacteria in your test batch are penicillin-resistant. Ampicillin and amoxicillin are just variations on a theme; basically, they are all penicillins.
This is why we have to continually come up with new antibiotics, to try to stay ahead of the resistant strains of bacteria.

Why does penicillin not kill plant cells?

Penicillin kills bacteria because bacteria have cell wall which the penecillin damages causing them to burst when water enter them. Human cell don't have cell walls so penicillin does not kill human cells. BUT plant cells have cell walls, so why does penicillin not kill them?

Bacterial cell walls are made up of peptidoglycan, unlike plant cell walls which are made of various other polysaccharides. The antibiotic targets the enzymes that synthesizes peptidoglycan. While plants and bacteria may both have cell walls, that does not mean the walls are made of the same material. Think of the Three Little Pigs. Just because pig #3 had a house with walls like pig #1 doesn't mean his house was to be blown down.

What would penicillin do to useful bacteria in your intestine?

Penicillin kills bacteria. What might it do to the beneficial bacteria in your intestine? How could it be prevented or rectified once it has occurred??

Taking penicillin kills the bacteria in your intestine and can lead to opportunistic infections such as Clostridium difficile which is able to proliferate once other bacteria in the intestines are killed and cause diarrhea. Over time the normal flora that reside in the intestines will start to grow back.

How penicillin is made?

I need a very detailed process on how a basic penicillin fermentation process takes place. I don't mind if the steps are like 50 or over, just include whatever details like buffers, equipment, conditions,etc. I need this for my school report. Links to useful websites are welcomed to.

My contribution is that, penicillin is produced by a fungi called penicilinase to kill the bacteria sharing foot with the fungus.

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