Scientists at Northeastern University have come closer to developing a new generation of highly effective antibiotics by developing bacteria in the lab.
The researchers examined bacterial communities enveloping particles of sand and identified chemicals - called siderophores - produced by cultivable bacteria that act as growth factors for distantly related strains of uncultivable bacteria.
When the two types of bacteria were placed in close proximity in a Petri dish, the uncultivable bacterium grew.
The finding, "opens a new chapter in the century-old quest to access a major source of biodiversity on the planet," said Professor of Biology Kim Lewis, who led the research.
The discovery represents the first identified mechanism governing the growth of uncultured bacteria in the lab, said Lewis.
"This provides us with a general approach to finding other types of growth factors that will give us access to additional classes of uncultured bacteria," he added.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg and could lead to the development of new ways to treat bacterial infections," said Anthony D'Onofrio, the paper's first author and postdoctoral research associate at the ADC.
The study has appeared in the latest issue of the journal Chemistry and Biology.