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: Team publishes evidence for natural alternative to antibiotic use in livestock

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

Researchers capture picture of microRNA in action

Oct 30, 2014

Biologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have described the atomic-level workings of "microRNA" molecules, which control the expression of genes in all animals and plants.

Blocking a fork in the road to DNA replication

Oct 30, 2014

A team of Whitehead Institute scientists has discovered the surprising manner in which an enigmatic protein known as SUUR acts to control gene copy number during DNA replication. It's a finding that could shed new light on ...

Cell division, minus the cells

Oct 30, 2014

(Phys.org) —The process of cell division is central to life. The last stage, when two daughter cells split from each other, has fascinated scientists since the dawn of cell biology in the Victorian era. ...

A new method simplifies the analysis of RNA structure

Oct 30, 2014

To understand the function of an RNA molecule, similar to the better-known DNA and vital for cell metabolism, we need to know its three-dimensional structure. Unfortunately, establishing the shape of an RNA ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.