Image of the Day: Tiny Targets
Image of the Day: Tiny Targets

Image of the Day: Tiny Targets

Beads filled with bacterial colonies indicate which antimicrobial compounds are working.

Apr 10, 2019
Chia-Yi Hou

ABOVE: A MICRO-ALGINATE BEAD CONTAINING A COLONY OF “LANTIBIOTIC”-PRODUCING CELLS (RED) HAS FEWER TARGET CELLS (GREEN) THAN SURROUNDING BEADS, INDICATING THAT THE SYNTHESIZED ANTIBIOTIC FROM THE PRODUCER CELLS IS WORKING.
STEVEN SCHMITT/ETH Zürich

Antimicrobial resistance is a currently one the biggest challenges in research and medicine. Researchers at ETH Zürich and the University of Regensburg have developed high-throughput methods for creating new lantibiotics. These are a class of antimicrobial peptides that can be synthesized in a laboratory setting. The research group engineered bacteria cells to produce different lantibiotics. These producer cells grew in single colonies alongside other bacteria within a micro-alginate bead made from a hydrogel. If the producer cells made lantibiotics with high antimicrobial activity, there were decreased numbers of the target cell colonies within that bead.

S. Schmitt et al., “Analysis of modular bioengineered antimicrobial lanthipeptides at nanoliter scale,” Nature Chemical Biology, doi:10.1038/s41589-019-0250-5, 2019.