Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Novel aquatic sources of antibiotics

In search of novel leads for antibiotics, European researchers investigated the production of secondary metabolites by the aquatic bacteria planctomycetes. Bioinformatics analyses and genetic tools enabled the manipulation and exploitation of these bacterial species as sources for novel antibiotic compounds.
Novel aquatic sources of antibiotics
Antibiotics are bioactive molecules from fungi, bacteria and plants that have revolutionised medicine and enabled the eradication of bacterial infections. However, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens poses a serious threat to human health and necessitates the discovery/development of novel compounds.

Naturally occurring secondary metabolites have long been used as lead structures for the development of various drugs. The EU-funded 'Construction of a genetic system for Planctomycetes' (COGNISEPLANCTOMYCES) project has therefore decided to explore the newly discovered planctomycetes for potential drug compounds.

Planctomycetes are slow-growing bacteria dominate biofilms thus out-competing their faster-growing heterotrophic competitors, possibly through the production of antibiotics. Following the sequencing of the planctomycetal genomes, bioinformatics analysis pointed towards the production of unusual secondary metabolites.

However, for the investigation of antibiotic compound production by planctomycetes, scientists had to find a genetically modifiable model organism. To this end, genetic tools for the manipulation of Planctomyces limnophilus were developed. Further details about the project can be found online.

In addition to the development of the genetic system, scientists also investigated, via genome mining, the possibility of small molecule synthesis in these bacteria. Further genetic experimentation with secondary metabolite-related genes and operons is required to determine the structure and fully characterise these small molecules. Apart from antibiotic production, the genetic modification of planctomycetes could also find biotechnological applications that include wastewater treatment.

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top