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IPFS News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology


•, By Alexandra Ossola

Humans could never have figured out how to get rid of potentially harmful bacteria without harnessing the bacteria themselves; when bacteria are under fire, they can create a special biological agent designed to eliminate their attackers. Now researchers from Vanderbilt University have figured out a way to pit certain types of bacteria against one another. The chemicals that result could be used to develop new antibiotics and treatments, according to a studypublished recently in ACS Chemical Biology.

Like in any other organism, a bacteria's DNA contains the blueprints for the organism's development and reproduction. But bacterial DNA also contains the code for chemicals called secondary metabolites, chemicals not directly related to the organism's growth but still necessary for its preservation and longevity. Some bacteria use these secondary metabolites to defend themselves against attackers, and only produce them when they're attacked. These are incredibly effective—many of the antibiotics and even some anti-cancer drugs widely used today are derived from these secondary metabolites. But in the past, discovering these chemical agents has been haphazard, only occurring when researchers stumbled upon bacteria already producing the chemicals.