(ORDO NEWS) — A team of scientists from the UK has received a new antifungal drug – solanimicin from a pathogenic bacterium that parasitizes potatoes.
We are talking about a microorganism called Dickeya solani, first identified 15 years ago. It is he who is responsible for the so-called wet rot on potatoes, which everyone has seen.
This disease is detrimental to agriculture, but helped scientists from the University of Cambridge (UK) discover a new broad-spectrum antibiotic.
Interestingly, microbiologists have previously found that the bacterium D. solani has the ability to secrete an antibiotic, but the other one is oocidin A. It has a high activity against many fungal infections in plants.
It turned out, however, that the bacterium can secrete another antibiotic – solanimicin. Scientists got it when they suppressed the genes responsible for the production of oocin A.
Despite this suppression, D. solani continued to retain antifungal activity. The researchers wondered why this was so, and learned about the bacterium’s “backup” defense option.
In addition to isolating the antibiotic itself, the authors of the work identified a cluster of genes encoding the proteins that make up the compound.
Scientists have also found that the microorganism consumes this type of antibiotic sparingly – for example, solanimicin genes are activated by an acidic environment.
In the future, biologists hope to obtain a drug from it that would be effective in protecting plants, and in the future, people, from pathogens.
In the lab, researchers have already tested the antibiotic against Candida albicans and it works. This type of fungus is present naturally in the body, but it can also trigger dangerous infections.
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