New antibiotic prevents harmful bacteria from reaching the bean root systems
An international team of scientists has discovered a new antibiotic called phazolicin, which is produced by a soil bacterium found deep in the tropical forests of Mexico. This may help bring more robust plant probiotic as well as new antibiotics, which could aid in combating resistance to antibiotics.
Discovered in the Los Tuxtlas rainforests, phazolicin prevents harmful soil bacteria from harming the Phaseolus vulgaris roots or wild beans that give it its name. Scientists said that its usefulness as a plant probiotic could extend to a plethora of crops such as beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, and other legumes.
“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 Konstantin Severinov from Rutgers University.
Severinov further said that antibiotic resistance is an enormous problem in both the fields of medicine and agriculture, and it is very important to continue searching for new antibiotics as they can contribute to potential antibacterial agents.
The phazolicin-producing bacterium is an unknown species of rhizobium. Like other rhizobia, it develops nodules on the roots of bean plants that supply them nitrogen and make them more robust in the growth process.
They deduced the antibiotic’s atomic structure and demonstrated that it is bound to and targets the ribosome, a site of protein manufacturing in bacterial cells. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications also revealed that by incorporating mutations in ribosomes they can change and manipulate the sensitivity to the antibiotic.