Scientists discover new antibiotic from soil bacterium in Mexico forests

A new antibiotic has been discovered by the scientists primarily from the Rutgers University from a soil bacterium which is present in the tropical forests of Mexico. It has been called as phazolicin and it can protect the bean plants from infestation and subsequent damage by preventing the harmful bacteria from entering the root systems of these plants.

As per a co-authored study, this new antibiotic can help in the development of plant probiotic which will be helpful in providing good bacteria as well as health benefits for plants and humans. The senior author of the study, Konstantin Severinov said that antibiotic resistance was a big problem in both agriculture as well as medicine and it is important to find out new antibiotics as they may lead to the development of anti-bacterial agents. He is also a principal investigator at Waksman Institute of Microbiology and a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University.

According to the study authors, the antibiotic was obtained from unidentified species of a Rhizobium which was seen in the tropical forests of Los Tuxtlas in Mexico. Phazolicin was found in soil and the roots of wild bean named Phaseolus vulgaris and the name of the antibiotic is derived after this plant. The experts said that microbes producing phazolicin provided the plants with nitrogen and formed nodules on the roots of the beans thereby helping in the robust growth of the plants. Unlike the other Rhizobia, it also protects the plants from harmful bacteria which may damage the roots of the plants. As per study authors this particular phenomenon may be used on various other legumes like soybeans, peanuts, lentils, peas and chickpeas.

The use of computers and bioinformatic analysis was helpful for the scientists in proving the existence of phazolicin in the lab. Its atomic structure was also revealed with the help of this and it was also found that its sensitivity could be modified by the introduction of mutations in their ribosomes.

David Sandefur

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