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Under the microscope: Streptomyces sp. myrophorea

This month: Streptomyces sp. myrophorea

That is not a strain of bacteria I’ve ever heard of.

That’s not a shortcoming on your part – details of its discovery have only just been published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

Where was it discovered?

In soil from Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, which is known as “the Boho Highlands”. It is an area of alkaline grassland and it has previously been claimed that the soil has healing properties.

Why were they looking there?

The search for replacement antibiotics has prompted researchers to explore new sources, including folk medicines. One of the 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.

Tell me more about what these traditions involved.

A small amount of soil was wrapped up in cotton cloth and used to heal many ailments, including toothache, throat and neck infections. Interestingly, the area was previously occupied by the Druids, around 1,500 years ago, and Neolithic people 4,000 years ago.

Have the team been studying this new strain of Streptomyces?

Yes – they have found it inhibits 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, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumonia, and Carbenepenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumanii.

What happens next?

It is not yet clear which component of the new strain prevents the growth of the pathogens, but the team is already investigating this and will now focussing on the purification and identification of these antibiotics.

Picture credit | iStock

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