ised a bioassay to measure the antimicrobial potential of a common seaweed species, Lobophora variegata. He combined biological extracts from seaweed harvested in the Bahamas with a fungus or bacterium and monitored the sample to see if the microbes grew. Of the 51 samples tested, 46 exhibited extraordinarily potent antifungal activity that could be traced to exceedingly low concentrations of an antifungal compound in the seaweed. Suppressed growth of microbes in the samples suggests that a natural antimicrobial compound is at work, Kubanek explained.
We have discovered a new antibiotic with a complex chemical structure that structurally resembles two groups of macrolide antibiotics (i.e., those that kill fungi) -- one found in marine sponges and the other in blue-green algae, Kubanek said. Because of the tiny available quantities of this new compound, researchers have not applied for a patent yet.
The pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb and a San Diego biotechnology company, Nereus Pharmaceuticals Inc., are partners with Scripps and are collaborating on related ongoing research. Scientists still need to determine whether the seaweed is actually the original source of the antibiotic, Kubanek added. The antimicrobial compound could be the byproduct of symbiosis between the seaweed and an as-yet unidentified microbe. If this is the case, it would be one of the rare examples of such a chemical defense for plants and animals, researchers reported.
They believe that further investigations of chemically mediated interactions between marine microbes and larger organisms are likely to reveal new molecules and mechanisms that enable marine plants and animals to persist despite intense microbial challenges, researchers wrote.
Ecologically driven studies, such as this one, which used . marine fungi in operationally simple assays, may be a promising strategy for uncovering novel natural products of commercial interest, the authors reported.
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Contact: Jane Sanders
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
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