Species producing antibiotic found at Hyderabad varsity lake

Scanning electron microscopy photographs of strain JC280T highlighting aggregate formation (A) tube like stalk and crateriforms are on the cell surface (B) budding cells can visualize in (C, D) sections. Photo: By Arrangement

Hyderabad: A novel species of a bacterium that produces antibiotic has been discovered by a team of researchers led by Prof. Ch. Venkata Ramana, Professor and Head, Department of Plant Sciences, School of Life Sciences.

Found in the Buffalo Lake on the UoH campus, the newly discovered bacterium, Planctopirus hydrillae, may provide a solution to the problem of diseases becoming resistant to majority of known drugs. The research team also looks at the help of the new bacteria in cleaning up ammonia waste, a growing environmental concern.

Prof. Ch Venkata Ramana with his Research Scholar Shri S Srinivas.

With disease-causing germs failing to respond to even the most potent antibiotics, scientists have been on a spree to find drugs to overcome the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, the University of Hyderabad pointed out in a release here on Thursday.

Coming in this backdrop, the discovery of antibiotic producing Planctomycete could help in the development of a new drug. The bacterium was isolated from aquatic plant Hydrilla and the discovery was published in the latest issue of the scientific publication, Journal of Antibiotics.

Prof. Ramana said their laboratory has been working on discovery of new bacteria and novel biomolecules, which are useful for human, animal and environmental health.

Buffalo Lake on the UoH campus

“Antibiotics are one such important biomolecules which we are targeting from anaerobic bacteria and from uncommon bacteria. This is because most pathogens are becoming resistant to the most common antibiotics produced by many known and common microorganisms,” he said.

The new species reported by the researchers is a very uncommon bacterium belonging to the phylum Planctomycetes.

This is the first report of an antibiotic producing bacterium from the phylum Planctomycetes, Prof. Ramana said. “Cultivating the bacteria of this phylum is extremely difficult and we are the first group from India to develop the art of cultivating these bacteria which are very useful even for environmental issues particularly for the treatment of ammonia waste,” he said. These bacteria are called as ‘Anamox (Anaerobic ammonia oxidising) bacteria’.

Dr. Ramana, who was awarded with “TATA Innovative Fellowship”, said he and his team has been working to identify the chemical nature of the antibiotic and the spectrum of antibiotic.

They have also sequenced the genome of the bacterium. The research team include researchers from Bacterial Discovery Laboratory, Centre for Environment, Institute of Science and Technology, JNTU, Hyderabad and UoH.