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Bacterial resistance to antimicrobial agents has been a problem since the first antibiotic was introduced; however, this issue is becoming more urgent as multidrug resistant microorganisms increase. To locate potential novel natural product antibiotics, we are focusing on organisms called endophytes. Endophytes are bacteria and fungi that colonize the interior of plants without pathogenic effects. Colonization by these organisms is often beneficial to the host because endophytes can enhance the stress tolerance of the host plant by producing compounds that combat other harmful bacteria, fungi, and insects. The plant-endophyte relationship is maintained by a secondary metabolome that has been evolutionarily optimized. The evidence suggests that endophytic microorganisms offer an unexploited abundance of natural products. Despite this, little energy has been focused on their study until recently. We are hoping to exploit the scientific literature about endophytes in Wisconsin to maximize our potential of finding novel organisms and antibiotic scaffolds. Additionally, we have focused our exploration on plants from local ecosystems that are known to have an unusual longevity, or a reported ethnobotanical history; these types of plants are thought to be most likely to harbor a diverse set of endophytes and, therefore, bioactive natural products. The endophytes isolated from our plant samples are co-cultured with target pathogens to screen for secretion of secondary metabolites with antibiotic activity. Endophytes showing activity in these screens are identified using microbiological techniques and 16S rRNA sequencing. Work on identifying the endophytes and their antimicrobial products is ongoing.
Dr. Katie Garber, Chemistry
chemistry, endophytes, bacterial resistance
Shallow, Lilia; Sylvain, Collin; and Pardini, Samantha, "Exploration of Wisconsin endophytic species towards the discovery of new natural product antibiotic scaffolds" (2023). Student Presentations. 88.