Nav: Home

Plant kingdom provides 2 new candidates for the war on antibiotic resistance

June 20, 2016

  • New research has discovered peptides from two crop species that have antimicrobial effects on bacteria implicated in food spoilage and food poisoning

  • They are similar in structure to a human peptide used to guard against beer-spoiling bacteria

Dublin, Ireland, Monday June 20th, 2016 - Scientists have isolated peptides (strings of amino acids) with antibiotic effects on bacteria that spoil food and cause food poisoning, after turning to the plant kingdom for help in boosting our arsenal in the ongoing war against antibiotic resistance.

The scientists found two small peptides from widely cultivated crop species (one from broad beans and one from cowpea) that were especially effective.

Further work then confirmed that when these peptides were used together, and with a human peptide that is also an antimicrobial, their protective effects were beefed-up in a one-two antimicrobial punch.

Associate Professor and Head of Microbiology at Trinity College Dublin, Ursula Bond, led the team that has just published its research in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

She said: "There are two major advantages to these small peptides in that no resistance mechanisms have emerged yet, and in that they can be inexpensively synthesised in the lab. Initially, our aim was to identify peptides that provide protection against food-spoiling bacteria, but these peptides may also be useful as antibiotics against bacteria that cause serious human diseases."

The research team behind the discovery had previously isolated a human peptide that is a potent antimicrobial agent against many of the bacteria that spoil beer during industrial fermentation. Instead of screening for other human peptides with similar desired effects, the scientists scanned plant peptides databases and focused on the peptides whose structural blueprints were similar to the human one with the desired characteristics.

Many of the most effective antibiotics are derived from proteins produced by plants, but there is a growing need to discover new therapeutic candidates as resistance is increasing in bacterial species that have major health and economic implications for society.

Professor Bond added: "We reasoned that natural peptides found in many plants and plant seeds might be useful new antibiotics, because plants have evolved these systems to protect themselves against the billions of bacteria and fungi they interact with in the soil every day."
-end-
This work was funded by a grant from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The journal article can be viewed here: http://aem.asm.org/content/early/2016/05/02/AEM.00558-16.abstract?sid=720c86e9-62b2-435c-8523-8558cc9ad5b2

Trinity College Dublin

Related Bacteria Articles:

Conducting shell for bacteria
Under anaerobic conditions, certain bacteria can produce electricity. This behavior can be exploited in microbial fuel cells, with a special focus on wastewater treatment schemes.
Controlling bacteria's necessary evil
Until now, scientists have only had a murky understanding of how these relationships arise.
Bacteria take a deadly risk to survive
Bacteria need mutations -- changes in their DNA code -- to survive under difficult circumstances.
How bacteria hunt other bacteria
A bacterial species that hunts other bacteria has attracted interest as a potential antibiotic, but exactly how this predator tracks down its prey has not been clear.
Chlamydia: How bacteria take over control
To survive in human cells, chlamydiae have a lot of tricks in store.
More Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#535 Superior
Apologies for the delay getting this week's episode out! A technical glitch slowed us down, but all is once again well. This week, we look at the often troubling intertwining of science and race: its long history, its ability to persist even during periods of disrepute, and the current forms it takes as it resurfaces, leveraging the internet and nationalism to buoy itself. We speak with Angela Saini, independent journalist and author of the new book "Superior: The Return of Race Science", about where race science went and how it's coming back.