Biological Sciences Faculty Publications

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Since the discovery of penicillin, microbes have been a source of antibiotics that inhibit the growth of pathogens. However, with the evolution of multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains, it remains unclear if there is an abundant or limited supply of natural products to be discovered that are effective against MDR isolates. To identify strains that are antagonistic to pathogens, we examined a set of 471 globally derived environmental strains (env-Ps) for activity against a panel of 65 pathogens including spp., spp., , and spp. isolated from the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. From more than 30,000 competitive interactions, 1,530 individual inhibitory events were observed. While strains from water habitats were not proportionate in antagonistic activity, MDR CF-derived pathogens (CF-Ps) were less susceptible to inhibition by env-Ps, suggesting that fewer natural products are effective against MDR strains. These results advocate for a directed strategy to identify unique drugs. To facilitate discovery of antibiotics against the most resistant pathogens, we developed a workflow in which phylogenetic and antagonistic data were merged to identify strains that inhibit MDR CF-Ps and subjected those env-Ps to transposon mutagenesis. Six different biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) were identified from four strains whose products inhibited pathogens including carbapenem-resistant BGCs were rare in databases, suggesting the production of novel antibiotics. This strategy can be utilized to facilitate the discovery of needed antibiotics that are potentially active against the most drug-resistant pathogens. Carbapenem-resistant is difficult to treat and has been deemed by the World Health Organization as a priority one pathogen for which antibiotics are most urgently needed. Although metagenomics and bioinformatic studies suggest that natural bacteria remain a source of novel compounds, the identification of genes and their products specific to activity against MDR pathogens remains problematic. Here, we examine water-derived pseudomonads and identify gene clusters whose compounds inhibit CF-derived MDR pathogens, including carbapenem-resistant.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Applied and Environmental Microbiology


American Society for Microbiology






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