Elicitation of Antibiotic Natural Products in Multispecies Cultures of Deep-Sea Vent-Derived Microorganisms (2014-2016)

Kerry McPhail
College of Pharmacy
Oregon State University
203 Pharmacy Building
Corvallis, Oregon 97331
Phone: 541-737-5808

Co-PI: Aleksandra Sikora, OSU

The global crisis of escalating antibiotic resistance by disease-causing organisms strikes at many aspects of human health and well-being. The crisis extends beyond infectious diseases to agriculture and commerce, and is compounded by climate change and globalization. While science seeks new antibiotics, an understanding of microbial metabolism, community structures, and symbioses is critical to diverting the evolution of antibiotic resistance and inducing susceptibility to current antibiotics.

Recent advances in microbiological techniques have begun to yield insights into the chemical signaling that plays a central role in microbial communities across diverse ecological niches. Certain signaling molecules are produced solely during interspecies communication and also under anaerobic/hypoxic growth conditions that mimic host environments. This proposal presents a multispecies co-culture strategy to elicit the production of biologically active natural products from new, deep-sea microorganisms derived from hydrothermal vent environments in collaboration with NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Vents Program. 

Dr. McPhail’s research team expects to characterize the biological action and molecular structures of two suites of new antibacterial natural products from deep-sea vent microorganisms by the end of this project. The project will also create a library of both deep-sea vent microorganisms and their natural product extracts to be made available for broader testing by other collaborators at OSU and beyond.

The team also hopes to raise the visibility of the OSU's natural products program and increase student enrollment in Pharmaceutical Sciences and other graduate programs. The overarching program goal - identifying new natural products for infectious disease research - may initiate a long-term project to develop new anti-infective drugs, or new treatment strategies to combat the development of antibiotic resistance.

Strategic Plan Focus Areas: Healthy Coastal Ecosystems and Habitats

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