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Aquatic Chemical Signaling (Image 1)

June 23, 2010
Aquatic Chemical Signaling (Image 1) Georgia Institute of Technology assistant professor Julia Kubanek and her colleagues at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have investigated a seaweed called Lobophora variegata, and discovered it has a strong antifungal potency and potentially some cancer-fighting power. The study, which Kubanek started as a postdoctoral fellow at Scripps and completed after coming to Georgia Tech, focused on whether seaweeds in the ocean can avoid infection by fungi and bacteria through the production of their own natural antibiotics. The seaweeds live in constant contact with potentially dangerous microbes, suggesting they are under pressure to evolve some kind of resistance. Kubanek and her colleagues may have discovered a new antibiotic with a complex chemical structure that is somewhat similar to other antibiotics produced by terrestrial bacteria. The compound has a strong antifungal potency and potentially some cancer-fighting power as well. The pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb is a partner with Scripps and is collaborating on the ongoing research. The scientists still have to determine whether the seaweed is actually the original source of the antibiotic. [Research supported by National Science Foundation grants CHE 98-07098 and CHE 01-11270.] (Date of Image: 2003) [Image 1 of 2 related images. See Image 2.]


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