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This photograph shows three species of bacteria
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This photograph shows three species of bacteria

June 1, 2010
This photograph shows three species of bacteria from the genus Salinospora growing on agar culture plates. These bacteria, which had never been observed until 2001, are major microbial inhabitants in marine sediments from the deep oceans. It can be estimated that perhaps 10,000 species of these microbes will ultimately be harvested from the marine environment. This is important because testing these microbes for their affects against diseases and cancer has shown that they, like the bacteria in soil, produce antibiotics and anticancer agents. Because these are genetically and environmentally unique--and have never been seen or studied before--they represent an enormous resource for the discovery of new drugs. For example, one strain of these bacteria has been shown to produce a very powerful anticancer agent called salinosporamide A. Many of the drugs that have been in use for a long time have developed a resistance and are no longer as effective. We are in need of an entirely new group of antibiotics. The massive areas encompassed by the deep oceans represent a new biomedical resource of massive proportion.


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