Marine biologists in sea sponges and sediments of the great barrier reef discovered an unusual source of large quantities of naturally occurring antibiotics. Marine biologists from the United States and Australia discovered an unusual source of large quantities of naturally occurring antibiotics. Prof. Russel Hill identified a group of bacteria that are found in sea sponges and sediments of the great barrier reef from the University of Maryland and Nicole Webster from the Australian Institute of marine science through genetic analysis. These bacteria called Actinomycetes produce over 70% of all naturally occurring antibiotics and were known so far only from the soil fauna. Actinomycetes are micro-organisms on the threshold between bacteria and fungi. Although Cirrus-like hyphae make up like mushrooms, they are among the bacteria due to the nature of their cell walls. In addition to the ability to produce various antibiotics such as streptomycin, it characterized by, to build complex organic compounds, such as the otherwise indigestible substances cellulose.
Lignin or chitin. Sea sponges are home to many species of these bacteria, and that in surprisingly large amounts of. Between 50 and 60 percent of the weight of a sponge consists of Actinomycetes”, says Russell Hill. About 25 percent of the genetic material is analyzed by the researchers was even new types of Actinomycetes. This is unusually high and suggests that sponges are a very rich source for new Actinomycetenarten and therefore also new naturally occurring antibiotics”, so Hill. Obtaining the sea-antibiotics the cultivation of sponges not offered however, because it is very difficult to breed. With the isolation and selective breeding of the sponge Actinomycetes or by implantation of genes responsible for the Antibiotikabildung in fast-growing species of bacteria it could produce but larger amounts of new antibiotics”, the Hill my Russel and Nicole Webster. The marine Actinomycetes open new prospects not only for future medical applications. Hill noted a high resistance to toxic heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, cobalt and zinc at several of the species isolated from him. The molecular mechanisms of the resistance will be investigated with the aim of putting these micro-organisms as a natural wonder weapon to the decontamination of heavy metals polluted seabeds.