SUMMARY: Efflux pumps are found in all organisms; they play an important role in helping the cells pump out toxins, heavy metals, and in the case of antibiotic resistant bacteria, antibiotics! This article talks about how efflux pumps work, other ways that they are used by bacteria (that don’t involve pumping out antibiotics), their role in the relationship between plants and bacteria, the gene that codes for them, and how these genes can be shared amongst bacteria species.
LESSON COMMENTS: If you’re teaching students about cellular transport, active transport, coupled transport, and antiports, the first part of this paper is worth reading and discussing. There is a great diagram on the second page that shows that efflux pumps are antiports and use the concentration gradient of H+ ions to move antibiotics out of the cell. Once students understand this concept, teachers can try to draw connections to other cellular processes that take advantage of H+ ion gradients (ETC, for example).
Blanco, P., Hernando-Amado, S., Reales-Calderon, J. A., Corona, F., Lira, F., Alcalde-Rico, M., Bernardini, A., Sanchez, M. B., … Martinez, J. L. (2016). Bacterial Multidrug Efflux Pumps: Much More Than Antibiotic Resistance Determinants. Microorganisms, 4(1), 14. doi:10.3390/microorganisms4010014