Researchers help find natural products potential of frankia

Aug 03, 2011

Soil-dwelling bacteria of the genus Frankia have the potential to produce a multitude of natural products, including antibiotics, herbicides, pigments, anticancer agents, and other useful products, according to an article in the June 2011 issue of the journal "Applied and Environmental Microbiology." University of New Hampshire professor of microbiology and genetics Louis Tisa, a Frankia expert, contributed the genomic analysis to this study.

"We were able to use cutting-edge techniques to identify unexpected compounds in this organism, Frankia," Tisa says. The researchers, led by Bradley Moore of the Scripps Oceanographic Institute, found genetic structures in Frankia that resemble those of various valuable natural product categories that produce the majority of the natural antibiotics used as drugs.

Frankia are nitrogen-fixing bacteria that live in symbiosis with actinorhizal plants (whose ranks include beech and cherry trees); they have not previously been exploited partly because these bacteria are difficult to grow in the lab. But new make it easier to transplant genes for promising natural products from Frankia into more user-friendly host bacteria for production.

"We found something unique that nobody thought to look for in these bacteria," says Tisa, who worked with his former graduate student and current lab technician Nicholas Beauchemin, on the project.

Tisa's lab provided insight on the biology that contributed to the genome mining, a recent technique that involves searching for genetic sequences, that was critical to the results and "complementary to the far more laborious traditional natural product drug discovery that has gone unchanged for decades," Moore says.

Explore further: Fighting bacteria—with viruses

Related Stories

Potential treatments from cryptic genes

Jun 02, 2008

Big pharma gave up on soil bacteria as a source of antibiotics too soon, according to research published in the June issue of Microbiology. Scientists have been mining microbial genomes for new natural products that may ha ...

New bacteria discovered in tar pits

May 17, 2007

U.S. environmental scientists have discovered the Rancho La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles contain hundreds of new species of unusual bacteria.

Recommended for you

Fighting bacteria—with viruses

Jul 24, 2014

Research published today in PLOS Pathogens reveals how viruses called bacteriophages destroy the bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. diff), which is becoming a serious problem in hospitals and healthcare institutes, due to its re ...

Atomic structure of key muscle component revealed

Jul 24, 2014

Actin is the most abundant protein in the body, and when you look more closely at its fundamental role in life, it's easy to see why. It is the basis of most movement in the body, and all cells and components ...

Brand new technology detects probiotic organisms in food

Jul 23, 2014

In the food industr, ity is very important to ensure the quality and safety of products consumed by the population to improve their properties and reduce foodborne illness. Therefore, a team of Mexican researchers ...

Protein evolution follows a modular principle

Jul 23, 2014

Proteins impart shape and stability to cells, drive metabolic processes and transmit signals. To perform these manifold tasks, they fold into complex three-dimensional shapes. Scientists at the Max Planck ...

Report on viruses looks beyond disease

Jul 22, 2014

In contrast to their negative reputation as disease causing agents, some viruses can perform crucial biological and evolutionary functions that help to shape the world we live in today, according to a new report by the American ...

User comments : 0