Tapping into a new reservoir of antibiotics

A team of ETH researchers led by Julia Vorholt and Jörn Piel have discovered new antibiotic substances in bacteria that colonise the leaf surfaces of a local wild plant.

During a systematic search of the leaves of thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), a group of researchers led by the ETH professors Julia Vorholt and Jörn Piel from the Institute of Microbiology have now discovered a remarkably chemically productive bacterium: Brevibacillus sp. Leaf 182. In experiments, it inhibited half of the 200 strains that the researchers had isolated from the leaf surfaces.

The bacterium produces and secretes at least four antibiotic chemical compounds. Two of these compounds were already known, while a substance called macrobrevin presented a previously unknown chemical structure.

This research was carried out in a collaboration of  SPSW member Prof. Julia Vorholt and her team at the ETH Zurich with Prof. Jörn Piel (ETHZ).

Reference publication
Helfrich E.J.N. et al.: Bipartite interactions, antibiotic production and biosynthetic potential of the Arabidopsis leaf microbiome. Nature Microbioloy (2018)
Doi: 10.1038/s41564-018-0200-0
(Available as a PDF on: https://rdcu.be/3onb)

Source (available in English and German)
ETH Zurich News, 27.07.2018