Europe, UK, Ireland, Research, Studies/Reports

New broad-spectrum antibiotic comes from a pathogenic bacterium in potatoes

The growing threat of antimicrobial resistance has led researchers to search for new compounds everywhere, according to a news release issued by the American Society for Microbiology. This week in mBio, a multinational team of researchers in Europe report the discovery of a new antifungal antibiotic named solanimycin.

The compound, initially isolated from a pathogenic bacterium that infects potatoes, Dickeya solani, appears to be produced by a broad spectrum of related plant pathogenic bacteria.

Solanimycin acts against a wide range of fungi known to infect and wreak havoc on agricultural crops, according to the researchers. In lab studies, the compound also acted against Candida albicans, a fungus that occurs naturally in the body but can cause dangerous infections. The results suggest that solanimycin, and related compounds, could be useful in both agricultural and clinical settings.

Soil microbes, especially from the Actinobacteria phylum, produce most therapeutic antibiotics used today. The new discovery suggests plant-based microorganisms are worth a closer look, especially as crops develop resistance to existing treatments, says microbiologist Rita Monson, Ph.D., at the University of Cambridge. She co-led the study with molecular microbiologist Miguel Matilla, Ph.D., at the Spanish Research Council’s Estación Experimental del Zaidín, in Granada.

The pathogenic potato bacterium Dickeya solani, which produces solanimycin, was first identified more than 15 years ago. Researchers in the lab of molecular microbiologist George Salmond, Ph.D., at the University of Cambridge, began investigating its antibiotic potential about a decade ago.

Source: American Society for Microbiology. Read the full news release here
Related article: The Humble Potato Could Hold the Key to Beating Hospital Superbugs as Well as Crop Diseases

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