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ISSN: 2327-5073
Clinical Microbiology: Open Access
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Bioprospecting of Uncultured Microorganisms: The Dawning of Antibiotic Discovery

Zhi-Qiang Xiong*

School of Medical Instrument and Food Engineering, University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, Shanghai 200093, China

*Corresponding Author:
Zhi-Qiang Xiong
School of Medical Instrument and Food Engineering
University of Shanghai for Science and Technology
Shanghai 200093, China
Tel.: +86-21-55803272
E-mail: [email protected]

Received Date: January 28, 2016 Accepted Date: February 01, 2016 Published Date: February 08, 2016

Citation: Xiong ZQ (2016) Bioprospecting of Uncultured Microorganisms: The Dawning of Antibiotic Discovery. Clin Microbiol 5: e132. doi: 10.4172/2327-5073.1000e132

Copyright: © 2016 Xiong ZQ. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use,distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Antibiotics are of great benefit for human health such as using in pathogenic infection, organ transplantation, cancer treatment and cholesterol control [1]. But a huge threat of global public health caused by multi-drug-resistance pathogens (e.g., gram-positive methicillin and vancomycin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1 gram-negative bacteria) has emerged extensively [2]. Despite this threat has ever-increasing public awareness regarding “superbug” infections, treatment options, unfortunately, continued to be limited [3]. The discovery of new antibiotics is one of direct action on the treat of drug resistant pathogenic infections for avoiding an epidemic [2]. However, the pace of antibiotic discovery and development with unique scaffold is dramatically declining after the past 60 years of intensive screening [4], especially the collapse of the antibiotic discovery pipeline that the last new class of antibiotics daptomycin discovered in 1987 has been successfully developed into a clinical therapeutic [5]. Currently, all microorganism derived commercial antibiotics come from cultivated species, especially five phyla Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Cyanobacteria, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria that represent 95% of antibiotic-producing microbes [6]. Because uncultured microorganisms are approximately 99% of microbial species, a recent trend in antibiotic discovery from natural sources emphasizes the investigation of uncultured microorganisms (do not grow under laboratory conditions) to meet the urgent demand for novel drug.

Uncultured microorganisms cannot be cultured by traditional culture techniques [4,7], developing cultivation methods of uncultured microorganisms thus play a key role for systematic investigation of the previously inaccessible antibiotics with interesting biological activities. Some novel technologies and cultivation methods (iChip [7], highthroughput extinction culturing [8,9], diffusion chamber [10], single cell encapsulation combined with flow cytometry [11], coculture [12], microbial culture chip [13], filtration-acclimatization [14], double encapsulation [15], micromanipulator [16], optical tweezers [17], transwell plates [18], and community culture [19]) have been exploited for isolation and cultivation of uncultured microorganisms. Despite these techniques have significant effect on isolation and culture of uncultivated microorganisms, new approaches and techniques are still required for recovering more uncultivated microbial species to discover the structurally unique antibiotics.

Pure culture may be the only way to comprehensive characterization of physiological properties and full assessment of application potential of individual microbial species [20]. I believe, with the development of the large-scale cultivation strategies of the uncultured majority of the microbial world, bio-prospecting of uncultured microbes could be a shortcut to discover novel antibiotics that is a perpetual need to combat new diseases and drug-resistant pathogens for public health [3,7]. Uncultured microbes have recently been reported to produce a new cell wall inhibitor teixobactin that kills pathogens without detectable resistance [7] and other diverse natural products [21], which could be a new dawning of antibiotic discovery. Uncultivated microorganisms will be better understood and discovered in the next decade by a combination of both conventional and innovative techniques. Thus, bio-prospecting of uncultivated microorganisms has a great application potential for the discovery of antibiotics with unique scaffolds and for exploitation in the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries.


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