A study by researchers at McGill University in Montreal shows a solid maple extract makes bacteria more vulnerable to antibiotics. This discovery could combat the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Professor Nathalie Tufenkji and her team have prepared a solid maple extract essentially of phenolic compounds - maple syrup is a rich source of this compound.

Lab tests then revealed that certain bacteria, including E coli and a bacterium that causes urinary tract infections, were partially weakened by the extract.

However, it is when used in combination with antibiotics that the extract succeeded in destroying colonies of resistant bacteria called biofilm, which are particularly difficult to treat.

Professor Tufenkji warns that in vivo tests and eventually clinical trials will be needed to measure the real effect in humans. However, she envisions a day when an extract of maple syrup could be added to the tablets of antibiotics to increase efficiency.

The extract also appears to interfere with the genetic code of the bacteria by removing the genes that contribute to the antimicrobial.

All maple syrup used in this study was purchased in supermarkets in the Montreal area, before being transformed by the researchers.

The findings of this study are published in the Scientific Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.