Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Science & Technology: Bacteria that lives in Geothermal Zones Could Have Antibiotic Properties

New protein from geothermal microorganism could aid fight against antimicrobial resistance (Royal Society of Chemistry)

Wonderful Champagne Pool. By Budi Kristianto. Thermal hotsprings, Waitapou Thermal Wonderland, New Zealand. GRC Photo Contest 2018.
Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health and the race is on to find new molecules with antibiotic properties. One way scientists try to find these molecules is to study proteins produced by microorganisms themselves, as the bacteria often uses these to fight off other competing bugs.

Scientists analyse the microorganism’s genetic make-up – its genome – looking for sequences of code that correspond to types of proteins known to have antibiotic properties. One group of such proteins are called lanthipeptides that have a particular structure known to be effective at fighting off bacteria. 

Researchers in New Zealand recently applied this process, known as ‘genome mining’, to a strain of Thermogemmatispora – a type of bacteria that lives in extreme conditions in the heated soil of New Zealand’s Taupo geothermal zone. They discovered a new type of lanthipeptide, called tikitericin, which they believe is part of the microorganism’s host defence system.