Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plant Microbe Shares Features with Drug-Resistant Pathogen

18.06.2009
Implications for biotech applications; possible targets for infection-fighting drugs

An international team of scientists has discovered extensive similarities between a strain of bacteria commonly associated with plants and one increasingly linked to opportunistic infections in hospital patients.

The findings suggest caution in the use of the plant-associated strain for a range of biotech applications. The genetic analysis was conducted in part at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, and will be published in the July 2009 issue of Nature Reviews Microbiology, now available online.

The research team — which included scientists from Ireland, Austria, and the United Kingdom as well as the U.S. — was investigating the versatility and adaptability of a group of bacteria known as Stenotrophomonas. These bacteria have great metabolic versatility, allowing them to thrive in very diverse environments.

The scientists were particularly interested in comparing two strains of S. maltophilia whose genomes were recently decoded to see why these strains — one isolated as an opportunistic pathogen from a clinical setting (strain K279a), and the other from the roots of poplar trees (strain R551-3) — were so well-suited to their very different environments. Such comparisons are made possible by the high throughput and cost-effective DNA sequencing capacity developed by DOE’s Joint Genome Institute, as well as the Sanger Institute, to help elucidate the role of microorganisms in health, energy, and environmental processes.

“Surprisingly, we observed very few differences between the opportunistic pathogen and the common plant bacterium,” said Brookhaven Lab microbiologist Daniel (Niels) van der Lelie, an expert on soil- and plant-associated microbes, whose team provided the data on the plant-dwelling strain.

For one thing, the scientists found genes that make the bacteria resistant to a wide range of antibiotics in both strains. “This suggests that antibiotic resistance is part of the species’ core genome, and not a trait acquired in the hospital,” van der Lelie said. Multi-drug antibiotic-resistance is one key feature that allows some bacteria to cause deadly infections in hospital patients whose immune systems are often compromised.

The scientists are also intrigued about similarities in the mechanisms the two strains use to colonize their respective environments. For example, both strains possess very similar mechanisms to produce glue-like substances, or biofilms, which allow them to adhere to plant roots, in one case, and medical devices such as ventilation tubes and intravenous catheters, in the other. Such devices are a common source of exposure to opportunistic pathogens for hospital patients.

Implications
“Soil microorganisms have long been a source and inspiration for the synthesis of antibiotics,” van der Lelie said. “These finding will help us to better understand the potential of bacteria to produce or become resistant to antimicrobial compounds.”

The findings may also reveal new targets for the development of drugs to interfere with microbes’ ability to form sticky, infection-fostering biofilms, or point the way to closely related non-pathogenic strains that could be useful and benign for biotech applications.

On the other hand, these findings raise the question of whether plants in hospital settings may serve as a reservoir for opportunistic pathogens or antibiotic resistance genes. “This is something that should be looked at more closely by experts in infectious diseases,” van der Lelie said.

The findings also suggest caution in using this particular strain of plant-dwelling bacteria for a range of biotech applications for which it and other plant-associated microbes have shown promise. These include: stimulating plant growth and protecting plants against pathogens; the breakdown of natural and man-made pollutants via bioremediation and phytoremediation; and the production of useful biomolecules such as drugs or industrial enzymes.

Based on the results of this study, van der Lelie’s group has ruled out S. maltophilia for biotech applications designed to increase plant growth. “The work in our lab is presently concentrating on two other plant-growth promoting bacteria, Pseudomonas putida W619 and Enterobacter sp. 638, neither of which contain broad spectrum antibiotic resistance or virulence factors that would allow them to behave as opportunistic pathogens,” he said. “We are certain about this after carefully analyzing the genome sequences of these strains.“

Co-authors on this study include: Robert Ryan and J. Maxwell Dow of University College Cork, Ireland; Sebastien Monchy and Safiyh Taghavi of Brookhaven Lab; Massimiliano Cardinale and Gabriele Berg of Graz University of Technology, Austria; Lisa Crossman of The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK; and Matthew B. Avison of the University of Bristol, UK.

Brookhaven Lab’s contribution to this study was supported by grants from DOE’s Office of Science, Laboratory Directed Research and Development funds, and by Royalty Funds at Brookhaven Lab under contract with DOE. Sequencing of R551-3 was performed at the DOE Joint Genome Institute. Other aspects of the research were funded by the German Research Foundation, the Austrian Science Foundation, INTAS, the Wellcome Trust, the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, and Science Foundation Ireland.

Karen McNulty Walsh | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bnl.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>