Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Seaweed uses chemical warfare to fight microbes

30.05.2003


Assistant Professor Julia Kubanek and her colleagues at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have investigated a seaweed called Lobophora variegata (see below) and discovered it has a strong antifungal potency and potentially some cancer-fighting power.
Georgia Tech Photo: Caroline Joe


Close-up of a seaweed called Lobophora variegata being studied for its strong antifungal potency and potential cancer-fighting power.


Scientists have discovered that seaweeds defend themselves from specific pathogens with naturally occurring antibiotics. The finding helps explain why some seaweeds, sponges and corals appear to avoid most infections by fungi and bacteria, according to a study published May 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Seaweeds live in constant contact with potentially dangerous microbes, and they have apparently evolved a chemical defense to help resist disease,” said lead author Julia Kubanek, an assistant professor of biology and chemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. “These plants have a really effective way of defending themselves.”

Few studies have addressed disease resistance in seaweeds, and seaweed diseases are little understood, except for species that are commercially important – for example, the seaweed used for sushi. This study’s report of isolating a potent antifungal compound contained in the common seaweed species Lobophora variegata reveals an unusual chemical structure not seen before in plants.


And the study lends insight into the ecological interactions between this seaweed species and other marine organisms, Kubanek said. Also, it presents the possibility of biomedical applications for the newly discovered antifungal compound, she added.

The research – funded in part by the National Science Foundation – was conducted in collaboration with colleagues Paul Jensen and William Fenical at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, Calif., Paul Keifer of Varian Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif., and researchers M. Cameron Sullards and Dwight Collins of Georgia Tech.

“Based on the antimicrobial activities we detected in a large survey of many different algal species, it is possible that antimicrobial chemical defenses are more common than previously believed and that L. variegata may be one of many species that use natural antibiotics to defend against infection,” Jensen said.

Jensen devised a bioassay to measure the antimicrobial potential of a common seaweed species, Lobophora variegata. He combined biological extracts from seaweed harvested in the Bahamas with a fungus or bacterium and monitored the sample to see if the microbes grew. Of the 51 samples tested, 46 exhibited extraordinarily potent antifungal activity that could be traced to exceedingly low concentrations of an antifungal compound in the seaweed. Suppressed growth of microbes in the samples suggests that a natural antimicrobial compound is at work, Kubanek explained.

“We have discovered a new antibiotic with a complex chemical structure that structurally resembles two groups of macrolide antibiotics (i.e., those that kill fungi) -- one found in marine sponges and the other in blue-green algae,” Kubanek said. Because of the tiny available quantities of this new compound, researchers have not applied for a patent yet.

The pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb and a San Diego biotechnology company, Nereus Pharmaceuticals Inc., are partners with Scripps and are collaborating on related ongoing research. Scientists still need to determine whether the seaweed is actually the original source of the antibiotic, Kubanek added. The antimicrobial compound could be the byproduct of symbiosis between the seaweed and an as-yet unidentified microbe. If this is the case, it would be one of the rare examples of such a chemical defense for plants and animals, researchers reported.

They believe that further investigations of chemically mediated interactions between marine microbes and larger organisms are likely to reveal new molecules and mechanisms that enable marine plants and animals to persist despite intense microbial challenges, researchers wrote.

“Ecologically driven studies, such as this one, which used …. marine fungi in operationally simple assays, may be a promising strategy for uncovering novel natural products of commercial interest,” the authors reported.

Jane Sanders | Georgia Institute of Technology
Further information:
http://www.gtresearchnews.gatech.edu
http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>