Discovering new antibiotics in the deep sea

Discovering new antibiotics in the deep sea


my name is Matt I work in Matt Upton’s research lab and I’m working on antibiotic discovery from deep-sea sponges. In recent years we began to see quite a dramatic increase in bacteria causing infections becoming resistant to the antibiotics we give them. Part of what we need to do now is look for new antibiotics, so what we’re essentially looking to do is get sponges from the deep-sea, isolate the bacteria from those sponges and see if they produce new antibiotics. This sponge was actually collected from a deep-sea trench off the northwest coast of Ireland about 1,500 metres under the sea. The next step once you have your sponge is to recover the bacteria from it and we do this by essentially chopping the sponge up into very small pieces spin it round really fast and all the bacteria that’s present in our smashed up sponge falls to the bottom and then once we have that collected as a pellet take a piece of it and spread it onto an agar plate, we incubate at various temperatures so that over time the nutrients in the agar plate and the temperature combined so that our bacteria can grow, and we test our sponge bacteria against known bacteria such as E. coli or MRSA to see if our bacteria has the potential to kill this so that if somebody for example comes to the hospital with infection we may be able to use our antibiotic to treat it. I think it’s really important to get people and the wider public involved in kind of educated about antibiotic resistance once you have that public concern for that kind of thing then you kind of get a bit more awareness when people perhaps maybe wouldn’t go to the doctors when they didn’t need to more aware about how to use antibiotics correctly. If people can become interested in microbiology and antibiotic research in antibiotic discovery then potentially inspire some people to become scientists in the future.

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