Research Seminar: Understanding the regulation and use of antibiotics by bacteria, plants and animals
15 March 2017
Professor Matthew Hutchings, School of Biosciences, University of East Anglia
Tuesday 21st March, 1.00 p.m., Stacey Lecture Theatre 1
Streptomyces bacteria are ubiquitous in soils and even give the soil its smell by producing a volatile terpene called geosmin (literally 'earth smell'). They make many other bioactive secondary metabolites and these natural products account for half of all known antibiotics. The production of antibiotics is linked to their complex developmental life cycles which include mycelial growth and sporulation. Understanding these processes is important because up to 90% of their secondary metabolites are not produced under lab conditions and we call these 'cryptic'. We recently identified an essential regulator called MtrA which appears to coordinate antibiotic production and sporulation and we showed that it can be exploited to activate the production of cryptic antibiotics. We are also interested in how insects and plants use these antibiotic producing bacteria to protect themselves against infection and in this talk I will give our recent insights into the role of these bacteria in fungus-growing ant systems and in plant roots and talk about the potential for discovery of novel antibiotics in these systems.