Penicillin bug genome unravelled

By | October 1, 2008

Dutch researchers have decoded the DNA sequence of the fungus which produces penicillin.

It is hoped that uncovering the genome of Penicillium chrysogenum will boost the development of new antibiotics to overcome problems of resistance.

The findings come just in time for the 80th anniversary of the discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming.

Full details of the 13,500-gene sequence will be published in Nature Biotechnology in October. Penicillium chrysogenum is used in the production of antibiotics such as amoxicillin, ampicillin, cephalexin and cefadroxil…. There are genes and gene families we did not think would be involved in biosynthesis of penicillins – they weren’t on our radar so that is our follow-up work.” Professor Hugh Pennington, an expert in bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said the genome sequence might well lead to the development of new antibiotics.

“If we understand the genome we might be able to manipulate the genes.” He said traditionally antibiotics had been found just from looking at what fungi produce, but in recent years scientists had been trying to modify existing treatments.

“All the easy targets have been hit by one drug or another so it’s proving very difficult to find new compounds and we’re going to need some lateral thinking. – bbc

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