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(NRP-241) Awesome Actinomycetes

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Awesome Actinomycetes
Siobhán Dorai-Raj & David Widdick (Sample cultivation) and Andrew Davies (Photography), John Innes Centre

Streptomyces bacteria isolated from soil. The bacteria in the photograph is an actinomycete isolated from a soil sample collected by students in Monkfield Park Primary School, Cambourne. The students were taking part in a SAW Trust Outreach (sawtrust.org) day led by Prof. Barrie Wilkinson. The SAW Trust aims to break down the traditional barriers between science, art and writing. The outreach day involved a morning of experiments followed by poetry writing and art sessions inspired by the science (led by Mike O’Driscoll and Chris Hann). In the science session, the children collected soil, diluted it and spread it on agar plates designed to encourage the growth of actinomycetes. These harmless soil bacteria naturally make chemicals which kill other microorganisms and are the basis for many of the antibiotics and other medicinally useful compounds currently in use. The bacteria which grew on the students’ plates were isolated, purified and tested by scientists in the John Innes Centre. Several exhibited antibacterial action and the most promising had its entire genome sequenced – which is the first step in identifying the genes responsible for making antibiotics.

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