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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

Genome mining effort discovers 19 new natural products in four years

It took two postdoctoral researchers, a lab technician, four undergraduates and their faculty advisors only four years – a blink of an eye in pharmaceutical terms – to scour a collection of 10,000 bacterial strains and isolate the genes responsible for making 19 unique, previously unknown phosphonate natural products, researchers report. Each of these products is a potential new drug. One of them has already been identified as an antibiotic.

Study: Odd biochemistry yields lethal bacterial protein

While working out the structure of a cell-killing protein produced by some strains of the bacterium Enterococcus faecalis, researchers stumbled on a bit of unusual biochemistry. They found that a single enzyme helps form distinctly different, three-dimensional ring structures in the protein, one of which had never been observed before.

Study identifies prime source of ocean methane

Up to 4 percent of the methane on Earth comes from the ocean’s oxygen-rich waters, but scientists have been unable to identify the source of this potent greenhouse gas. Now researchers report that they have found the culprit: a bit of “weird chemistry” practiced by the most abundant microbes on the planet.

The findings appear in the journal Science.

Two IGB Faculty Members Elected to American Academy of Microbiology

James Slauch and Wilfred van der Donk  have been elected fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology. They are among the 78 microbiologists chosen by their peers for significant contributions to their field.

Slauch, a professor of microbiology and of medicine, studies Salmonella bacteria, particularly the molecular mechanisms that cause Salmonella infections and allow the bacteria to elude the immune system.

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