Scientists have discovered that a robust, broad spectrum antibiotic and a gene that confers resistance to that antibiotic are both found in the bacterium Staphylococcus epidermidis Strain 115. Strain 115 was originally discovered in turkeys that appeared to have enhanced immunity to bacterial infections.
“The motivation behind our current work was a desire to understand the connection between Strain 115 and immunity to disease-causing bacteria,” said Joel S. Griffitts from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah in the US.
The antibiotic, a member of the thiopeptide family of antibiotics, is not in widespread use, partly due to its complex structure. But it quickly became clear to the investigators that Strain 115 could produce a potent antibiotic that targets a large number of medically relevant bacteria, including those that cause staph infections, strep throat and severe gastro-intestinal diseases.
“We found that the genes for both antibiotic synthesis and self protection in Strain 115 are conveniently clustered on a compact DNA molecule (the plasmid) that replicates itself as a small circle within the cells of Strain 115,” Griffitts explained.
“We hope to come up with innovative processes for large-scale production so that new and possibly more potent versions of the antibiotic can become available,” Griffitts concluded.
The research was published in the Journal of Bacteriology.