School pupils unearth new antibiotics in university laboratory visit

Pupils from three Kent schools have taken part in their first visit to the University as part of the Antibiotics Unearthed project which aims to discover new antibiotics from soil bacteria.

Pupils from Kent College and Barton Court Grammar School, both in Canterbury, and Sir Roger Manwood’s School, Sandwich, spent two hours working with scientists in the University’s School of Biosciences laboratories on 1 December.

The visit was part of Kent’s involvement in Antibiotics Unearthed, a national project supervised by the Microbiology Society. It gives the public, students and educators the opportunity to work with scientists as part of a global initiative to discover new antibiotics from soil bacteria.

Undergraduate and school students will analyse their samples for antibacterial compounds and investigate any potential compounds that are found.

During their visit, the pupils isolated and characterised various microorganisms, shown to have some potential for producing anti-microbial compounds.  This is the first of many planned visits during which the pupils will be trained in various cell culturing, molecular biology and biochemical techniques to reach the goals of their project.