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Understanding antibiotic resistance
Understanding antibiotic resistance

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7.3 Antibiotics from extreme environments

Scientists are looking further and further afield to discover new bacterial types and antibiotics, including some extreme locations like the Atacama Desert and under the sea.

The Atacama Desert (Figure 10) is one of the driest places on Earth. Some areas have just 1 mm of rain per year. This inhospitable place is home to a recently discovered bacterium – Streptomyces leeuwenhoekii. It produces metabolites called chaxamycins which have antimicrobial activity (UEA, 2016).

A photo of the Atacama Desert in Chile.
Figure 10 The Atacama Desert in Chile.

Bacteria living in a symbiotic relationship with marine sponges (Figure 11) produce various metabolites which are thought to protect their sponge host from predators and pathogens. Marine Streptomyces and the Salinispora, which were only discovered in 1989, are two groups of bacteria currently attracting the attention of scientists (UEA, 2016).

A photo of marine sponges in the Caribbean Sea.
Figure 11 Marine sponges in the Caribbean Sea (Twilight Zone Expedition Team 2007, NOAA-OE).