Soil microbiome leads to discovery of new antibiotics

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In New York, Rockefeller University researchers found and categorized a new class of antibiotics they call malacidins found in soil microbiomes that are active against multi-drug resistant pathogens. Using a sequence-guided screen to search environmental DNA samples, they isolated DNA from 2,000 soil samples and analyzed it using a bioinformatics platform called environmental Surveyor of Natural Products Diversity.

“While metagenome-based antibiotic discovery methods are still in their infancy, the scaling and automation of the pipeline described here should permit the systematic discovery of [natural product] antibiotics that have until now remained hidden in the global metagenome, providing a potentially powerful approach for combating antibiotic resistance,” the researchers wrote in their paper.