Researchers help find natural products potential of frankia

August 3, 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: New bacteria discovered in tar pits

Related Stories

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.

Potential treatments from cryptic genes

June 2, 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 have ...

Recommended for you

Secrets of a heat-loving microbe unlocked

September 4, 2015

Scientists studying how a heat-loving microbe transfers its DNA from one generation to the next say it could further our understanding of an extraordinary superbug.

Plants also suffer from stress

September 4, 2015

High salt in soil dramatically stresses plant biology and reduces the growth and yield of crops. Now researchers have found specific proteins that allow plants to grow better under salt stress, and may help breed future generations ...

Ancient walnut forests linked to languages, trade routes

September 4, 2015

If Persian walnut trees could talk, they might tell of the numerous traders who moved along the Silk Roads' thousands of miles over thousands of years, carrying among their valuable merchandise the seeds that would turn into ...

Huddling rats behave as a 'super-organism'

September 3, 2015

Rodents huddle together when it is cold, they separate when it is warm, and at moderate temperatures they cycle between the warm center and the cold edges of the group. In a new study published in PLOS Computational Biology, ...

0 comments

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.