Woodland - Winter 2019 - 16

Seedlings
Continued

SCIENTISTS DISCOVER NEW ANTIBIOTIC IN TROPICAL FOREST

PHOTO BY DMITRII Y. TRAVIN

SOURCE: RUTGERS UNIVERSITY

The bacterium that produces the antibiotic phazolicin forms nodules on bean
plant roots, resulting in a more robust plant (right) than on the left.

Findings may lead to "plant probiotic" and new
antibiotics.
Scientists from Rutgers University and around the
world have discovered an antibiotic produced by a
soil bacterium from a Mexican tropical forest that may
help lead to a "plant probiotic," more robust plants
and other antibiotics.
Probiotics, which provide friendlier bacteria and
health benefits for humans, can also be beneficial to
plants, keeping them healthy and more robust. The
new antibiotic, known as phazolicin, prevents harmful
bacteria from getting into the root systems of bean
plants, according to a Rutgers coauthored study in
the journal Nature Communications.

16 WOODLAND * Winter 2019

"We hope to show the bacterium can be
used as a 'plant probiotic' because phazolicin
will prevent other, potentially harmful bacteria
from growing in the root system of agriculturally
important plants," said senior author Konstantin
Severinov, a principal investigator at the Waksman
Institute of Microbiology and a professor of
molecular biology and biochemistry in the School
of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers UniversityNew Brunswick. "Antibiotic resistance is a huge
problem in both medicine and agriculture, and
continuing searches for new antibiotics are very
important as they may provide leads for future
antibacterial agents."
The bacterium that produces phazolicin is an
unidentified species of Rhizobium. It was found
in a tropical forest in Los Tuxtlas, Mexico, in the
soil and roots of wild beans called Phaseolus
vulgaris, hence the antibiotic's name: phazolicin.
Like other Rhizobia, the phazolicin-producing
microbe forms nodules on bean plant roots
and provides plants with nitrogen, making
them grow more robustly than others. Unlike
other Rhizobia, it also defends plants from
harmful bacteria sensitive to phazolicin. The
phenomenon could eventually be exploited
in beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts,
soybeans and other legumes.
Using computer and bioinformatic analysis, the
scientists predicted the existence of phazolicin
and then confirmed its existence in the lab. They
revealed the atomic structure of the antibiotic and
showed it is bound to and targets the ribosome,
a protein production factory in bacterial cells.
The scientists found they can modify and control
sensitivity, or susceptibility, to the antibiotic by
introducing mutations in ribosomes.
Scientists from the Skolkovo Institute of
Science and Technology in Russia; Russian
Academy of Science; University of California,
Berkeley; Lomonosov Moscow State University
in Russia; University of Illinois at Chicago; and
University Paris-Sud and University Paris-Saclay in
France contributed to the study.
A



Woodland - Winter 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Woodland - Winter 2019

OVERSTORY
FORESTS AND FAMILIES
FOREST INTERACTIONS Seedlings
2019 Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year
Giving Back for the Forests of Tomorrow
Policies And Partnerships Go Hand In Hand For Strong Forests
TOOLS AND RESOURCES
Woodland - Winter 2019 - Intro
Woodland - Winter 2019 - cover1
Woodland - Winter 2019 - cover2
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 3
Woodland - Winter 2019 - OVERSTORY
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 5
Woodland - Winter 2019 - FORESTS AND FAMILIES
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 7
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 8
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 9
Woodland - Winter 2019 - FOREST INTERACTIONS Seedlings
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 11
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 12
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 13
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 14
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 15
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 16
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 17
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 18
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 19
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 2019 Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 21
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 22
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 23
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 24
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 25
Woodland - Winter 2019 - Giving Back for the Forests of Tomorrow
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 27
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 28
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 29
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 30
Woodland - Winter 2019 - Policies And Partnerships Go Hand In Hand For Strong Forests
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 32
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 33
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 34
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 35
Woodland - Winter 2019 - TOOLS AND RESOURCES
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 37
Woodland - Winter 2019 - 38
Woodland - Winter 2019 - cover3
Woodland - Winter 2019 - cover4
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