[permaculture] Bacteria found in ancient Irish soil halts growth of superbugs—new hope for tackling antibiotic resistance

Lawrence London lfljvenaura at gmail.com
Fri Dec 28 12:55:05 EST 2018


Bacteria found in ancient Irish soil halts growth of superbugs—new hope for
tackling antibiotic resistance
December 27, 2018 , Swansea University <http://www.swansea.ac.uk/>
[image: Bacteria found in ancient Irish soil halts growth of superbugs --
new hope for tackling antibiotic resistance]
Growth of the newly discovered *Streptomyces sp. myrophorea*, so named
because it produces a distinctive fragrance similar to that of oil of
wintergreen. Although superficially resembling fungi, Streptomyces are true
bacteria and are the source of two-thirds of the various frontline
antibiotics used in medicine. Credit: G Quinn, Swansea University

Researchers analysing soil from Ireland long thought to have medicinal
properties have discovered that it contains a previously unknown strain of
bacteria which is effective against four of the top six superbugs that are
resistant to antibiotics, including MRSA.

Antibiotic resistant superbugs could kill up to 1.3 million people in
Europe by 2050, according to recent research.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes the problem as "one of the
biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today".

The new strain of bacteria was discovered by a team based in Swansea
University Medical School, made up of researchers from Wales, Brazil, Iraq
and Northern Ireland.

They have named the new strain *Streptomyces sp. myrophorea*.

The soil they analysed originated from an area of Fermanagh, Northern
Ireland, which is known as the Boho Highlands. It is an area of alkaline
grassland and the soil is reputed to have healing properties.

The search for replacement antibiotics <https://phys.org/tags/antibiotics/>
to combat multi-resistance has prompted researchers to explore new sources,
including folk medicines: a field of study known as ethnopharmacology. They
are also focusing on environments where well-known antibiotic producers
like *Streptomyces* can be found.

One of the research team <https://phys.org/tags/research+team/>, Dr. Gerry
Quinn, a previous resident of Boho, County Fermanagh, had been aware of the
healing traditions of the area for many years.

Traditionally a small amount of soil was wrapped up in cotton cloth and
used to heal many ailments including toothache, throat and neck infections.
Interestingly, this area was previously occupied by the Druids, around 1500
years ago, and Neolithic people 4000 years ago.
[image: Bacteria found in ancient Irish soil halts growth of superbugs --
new hope for tackling antibiotic resistance]
Zone of inhibition produced by *Streptomyces sp myrophorea* on a lawn of
MRSA. The bacteria is the brown spot, and the lighter color around the spot
shows that it is inhibiting the spread of the MRSA which is surrounding it.
Credit: G Quinn, Swansea University

The main findings of the research were that the newly-identified strain of

   - Inhibited the growth of four of the top six multi-resistant pathogens
   identified by the WHO as being responsible for healthcare-associated
   infections: Vancomycin resistant *Enterococcus faecium* (VRE),
   methicillin-resistant *Staphylococcus aureus* (MRSA), *Klebsiella
   pneumonia*, and Carbenepenem-resistant *Acinetobacter baumanii*
   - Inhibited both gram positive and gram negative bacteria, which differ
   in the structure of their cell wall; usually gram negative bacteria are
   more resistant to antibiotics

It is not yet clear which component of the new strain prevents the growth
of the pathogens, but the team are already investigating this.

Professor Paul Dyson of Swansea University Medical School said:

"This new strain of bacteria is effective against 4 of the top 6 pathogens
that are resistant to antibiotics, including MRSA. Our discovery is an
important step forward in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

Our results show that folklore and traditional medicines are worth
investigating in the search for new antibiotics. Scientists, historians and
archaeologists can all have something to contribute to this task. It seems
that part of the answer to this very modern problem might lie in the wisdom
of the past."

Dr. Gerry Quinn from the research team said:

"The discovery of antimicrobial substances from *Streptomyces sp.myrophorea*
will help in our search for new drugs to treat multi-resistant bacteria
<https://phys.org/tags/bacteria/>, the cause of many dangerous and lethal

We will now concentrate on the purification and identification of these
antibiotics. We have also discovered additional antibacterial organisms
from the same soil cure which may cover a broader spectrum of
multi-resistant pathogens."

The research was published in *Frontiers in Microbiology*.

*More information:* Luciana Terra et al. A Novel Alkaliphilic Streptomyces
Inhibits ESKAPE Pathogens, *Frontiers in Microbiology* (2018). DOI:
10.3389/fmicb.2018.02458 <http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.02458>

*Provided by:* Swansea University

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