With a study published in Nature recently, scientists think they’ve finally figured out what that enigmatic element was—and it’s even more obscure than anyone may have guessed.
The sweet genetics helped the strains cause trouble, Britton and colleagues found.
In one experiment, they infected 55 mice with either RT027 or a genetically engineered version that couldn’t metabolize trehalose.
Next, they pitted RT078 against a genetically engineered version that couldn’t metabolize trehalose.
Together, the data suggests that trehalose metabolism gave the epidemic C. diff strains an advantage over their relatives and made them more deadly in the gut.