Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton is concentrating on COVID-19 research, as part of nationwide studies from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, the lab has other studies that continue to make research headlines. In an NIH news release, scientists identified a protein that allows the common Salmonella bacteria to infect cells.

Salmonella is a common foodborne infection that causes inflammation of the lining of a person's intestines. The bacteria floats in a tumbling action inside the gut, but when it's ready to infect a cell, it swims in a straight line for a brief time and invades the cell. A team at Rocky Mountain Laboratories led a study that showed how a protein (McpC) was responsible for the "smooth swimming" and the resulting infection. When they grew the salmonella bacteria without the protein, the straight swimming didn't happen in a calf intestine model and infection didn't happen.

This could have implications on how other infections happen in the intestines.
From the news release:
"The researchers hypothesize that controlled smooth swimming could be a widespread bacterial infection strategy. Similar smooth swimming behavior can be seen in unrelated enteric bacteria, such as Vibrio, which can cause infection when undercooked seafood is eaten."

The team used special microscopes and cameras (see photo above) to view the process. More study continues with the hope of developing new antibiotics.

The RML studies, which included groups from the University of Texas A&M, was led by Olivia Steele-Mortimer, Ph.D., chief of NIAID's Salmonella-Host Cell Interactions Section, and Kendal G. Cooper, Ph.D. The study was published in "Nature Communications." Rocky Mountain Laboratories is part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

NEXT UP: 10 Absolute WORST Tourist Incidents at Yellowstone National Park