New research suggests that an amino acid is what affects the behavior of E. coli O157. A University of Glasgow team analyzed the genome sequence of 1,500 strains of E. coli to see how the genes of the pathogen respond to different concentrations of D-Serine, an amino acid produced in the brain, where it plays a role in nerve signaling. High concentrations of the amino acid, the team found, keep the potentially deadly E. coli O157 from attaching to host tissue, suggesting that making changes in diet to increase levels of D-Serine could prevent or even treat E. coli O157 infection. “This work provides new insights into the infection process with the aim of developing compounds that block such bugs from attaching to the host,” said Dr. Andrew Roe, a senior lecturer at Glasgow’s Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, who led the team of researchers. “With many strains of E. coli developing resistance to traditional antibiotics, such approaches are urgently needed,” he added. “If we can disarm such bacteria rather than killing them, it puts less pressure on the bacteria to evolve into something that is resistant to treatment.” The various strains of E. coli share about 2,000 genes, with another 18,000 genes that vary between strains. The findings were published in the ISME Journal, the Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology.