Kim Findlay and Mervyn Bibb (John Innes Centre)
Streptomyces cinnamoneus belongs to a group of soil bacteria called actinomycetes that produce two thirds of all antibiotics of microbial origin and around half of all clinically used classes of antibiotics. S. cinnamoneus produces a potent antibiotic, cinnamycin, with a unique mechanism of action that is active against a wide range of bacterial pathogens. Research carried out at the John Innes Centre on the Norwich Research Park has led to a detailed understanding of how the antibiotic is made, and how that process is controlled. It has also allowed the generation of a large number of cinnamycin variants with potentially improved clinical properties. Like many actinomycetes, S. cinnamoneus produces spores that are dispersed by the wind to new environments. This scanning electron micrograph image shows chains of spores emanating from trunk-like aerial hyphae.