You should be aware that we have a health crisis! More and more bacterial diseases, such as Staphylococcus and Strep pneumonia, have become resistant to those antibiotics that previously killed the disease. The current strategy is to find new sources of antibiotics in nature. Soil has been the major source, but some scientists, including right here at UW-Madison, are looking at insects.
PNM reporter Dennis Shaffer talks with Marc Chevrette, a grad student in bacteriology, who also happens to be the lead author of a paper published earlier this month that discovered a potential fungal infection bacterial antibiotic on a South American ant. In the conversation, Marc explains why bacterial pathogens can develop resistance to antibiotics. They have a long, long evolutionary history that enables them to adapt genetically to whatever force might threaten them. Marc also explains that the an early step in the research process is discovering the beneficial bacteria on the insect. But it’s not the bacteria that’s beneficial; it’s the chemical that the bacteria produces that kills the invading microbe that’s important.
There’s a lot of very valuable information in this conversation, including how science works to find solutions to devastating problems. So, please listen to the PNM audio of the show above.
Some information about the study can be found from the UW-Madison news press release. Click here to transfer to the article.