Improved Growth of Bacteria for Antibiotics with Tiny Particles

Jenn Hoskins
28th April, 2024

Improved Growth of Bacteria for Antibiotics with Tiny Particles

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • At Lodz University of Technology, adding talc microparticles to Streptomyces rimosus cultures increased antibiotic production
  • Talc addition changed the bacteria's growth, resulting in smaller, less clumpy forms that are easier to harvest
  • Specifically, talc microparticles led to a 9-fold increase in oxytetracycline production, a valuable antibiotic
In the quest to produce vital medications, scientists often turn to nature's own factories: bacteria. One such group, the Streptomyces, are particularly adept at producing compounds with medicinal properties, including antibiotics like oxytetracycline and antiparasitics such as milbemycins. However, the process of cultivating these bacteria and harvesting their chemical bounty is not without its challenges. The dense, clumpy growth of Streptomyces can hinder production, making it difficult to scale up for industrial use. Researchers at the Lodz University of Technology have made a significant breakthrough in this area[1]. The study conducted by the team at Lodz University of Technology has shown that the addition of talc microparticles to the cultivation of Streptomyces rimosus, a bacterium known for its production of antibiotics, can significantly alter both the physical growth patterns of the bacteria and the quantity of the valuable compounds they produce. This method, known as microparticle-enhanced cultivation (MPEC), has been previously shown to boost the production of other natural products in different Streptomyces species[2]. The findings are particularly exciting because they offer a dual benefit: the morphological changes induced by talc microparticles result in smaller pellets and more dispersed growth, which could ease the cultivation and harvesting process. Additionally, the presence of these microparticles has been linked to a substantial increase in the production of certain secondary metabolites, which are the compounds of interest for pharmaceutical applications. Secondary metabolites are substances produced by an organism that are not necessary for its immediate survival but can have important ecological functions, including serving as antibiotics. In the case of S. rimosus, the study found that the addition of talc microparticles to the cultures led to a 9-fold increase in the production of oxytetracycline, a valuable antibiotic. Other compounds, such as 2-acetyl-2-decarboxamido-oxytetracycline and milbemycin A3+4[O], also saw significant increases in yield. These findings build upon earlier research that explored the optimization of natural product formation in actinomycetes, the broader family of bacteria to which Streptomyces belongs. For instance, the controlled expression of the morphogene ssgA was previously shown to improve growth and product formation in Streptomyces coelicolor and Streptomyces lividans[3]. The current study extends this concept by using a physical intervention – the addition of talc microparticles – to achieve similar morphological and productivity enhancements. The production of rebeccamycin, another medically important compound, has faced similar challenges in its production process, with researchers exploring various methods including natural and heterologous production to increase yield[4]. The findings from the Lodz University of Technology could potentially inform future efforts to optimize the production of rebeccamycin and other valuable natural products. In practical terms, the MPEC method could make Streptomyces more attractive as a sustainable production host for pharmaceuticals. By adding a simple ingredient – talc microparticles – to the cultivation process, researchers can not only improve the efficiency of the production but also potentially lower the costs associated with the downstream processing of these compounds. The study's implications are wide-reaching, offering a promising avenue for increasing the availability of antibiotics and other secondary metabolites. As antibiotic resistance becomes an ever-growing concern, finding efficient ways to produce new and existing antibiotics is of critical importance. The research from Lodz University of Technology represents a significant step forward in this regard, providing a tangible solution to a longstanding problem in bioprocessing. In conclusion, the application of talc microparticles in the cultivation of Streptomyces rimosus offers a novel and effective way to enhance the production of antibiotics and other secondary metabolites. This advancement not only has the potential to improve the economic viability of natural product manufacturing but also contributes to the global effort to combat antibiotic resistance through the development of new and more accessible treatments.



Main Study

1) Morphological-metabolic analysis in Streptomyces rimosus microparticle-enhanced cultivations (MPEC)

Published 25th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Microparticles enhance the formation of seven major classes of natural products in native and metabolically engineered actinobacteria through accelerated morphological development.

3) Unlocking Streptomyces spp. for use as sustainable industrial production platforms by morphological engineering.

Journal: Applied and environmental microbiology, Issue: Vol 72, Issue 8, Aug 2006

4) The antitumor antibiotic rebeccamycin-challenges and advanced approaches in production processes.

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