Bacteria that don’t know they are hungry are thousands of times eaier to kill.

Dr Nguyen
Microbiologists have long known that bacteria whose food supply is runninglow issue a chemical alarm telling them to prepare for starvation. They alsonoticed that bacteria often run out of food during an infection or when clumpedin biofilms that only allow the outside ones to feed easily. These clumps andbiofilms are very hard to kill, even when attacked by antibiotics to which theyhave no known resistance.  What if thealarm turns on the resistance?
To their amazement, bacteria engineered so they didn’t sense starvation werethousands of times more sensitive to killing than those that could.
"That experiment was a turning point," Singh said. "It toldus that the resistance of starved bacteria was an active response that could beblocked. It also indicated that starvation-induced protection only occurred ifbacteria were aware that nutrients were running low."
Further research showed that the starvation shutdown response protected themfrom the toxic form of oxygen, chemically hyperactive free radicals. Free radicals are also what antiobiotics generate when killing bacteria. Elegant.
Bacterial clusters living in the lungs of a cystic 
fibrosis patient are highly resistant to 
killing by antibiotics

The good news goes beyond understanding the problem.  Existing antibiotics that may seem ineffectivetoday may get a power boost of up to a thousand fold on certain resistantbacteria.

Edited from Science Daily News reporting on work by lead author Dr. DaoNguyen (McGill), Dr. Singh and others.