The soil bacterium could act as a “plant probiotic,” providing friendly support to plants against infectious microbes, and contribute to their health
An international team of scientists have discovered a new antibiotic produced by a soil bacterium found in a tropical forest in Mexico — a finding that may help develop new ways to tackle bacterial infections in both plants and humans.
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, noted that the soil bacterium could act as a “plant probiotic,” providing friendly support to plants against infectious microbes, and contribute to their health.
The researchers, including those from Rutgers University in the US, said that the new antibiotic — phazolicin — prevented harmful bacteria from getting into the root systems of bean plants.
“We hope to show the bacterium can be used as a ‘plant probiotic’ because phazolicin will prevent other, potentially harmful bacteria from growing in the root system of agriculturally important plants,” said senior author of the study, Konstantin Severinov, from Rutgers University”
Severinov mentioned that the current global trends of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics posed a crisis situation both in medicine and agriculture, and added that continuing search for new antibiotics was very important to find new anti-bacterial agents.
The researchers said that phazolicin was produced by an unidentified species belonging to a class of microbes called Rhizobium, present in the roots of plants.
The study noted that the microbe was found in a tropical forest in Los Tuxtlas, Mexico, in the soil and roots of wild beans called Phaseolus vulgaris.
The researchers said that the phazolicin-producing microbe formed nodules on bean plant roots, and provided plants with nitrogen, making them grow more robustly than others.
The microbes also defended plants from harmful bacteria sensitive to phazolicin, the study noted.
The researchers said that the ability of the bacteria could eventually be exploited in beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, soybeans, and other legumes.
Using computer simulations, the researchers found the atomic structure of the antibiotic, and found that it targeted the bacteria’s ribosome — the protein manufacturing component in cells.
Source : The Hindu