First antibiotic in history had its genome sequenced

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Ricky Joseph

Accidentally discovered in 1928 Alexander Fleming left his name in history after a strain grew inside a Petri dish with the presence of Staphylococcus Even accidentally, this container and its contents were responsible for the production of the first large-scale antibiotic, Penicillin.

The original specimen was sequenced

To try to preserve the original strain of fungus Penicillium However, a curious fact drew the attention of some researchers, even though it was a revolutionary microorganism, no one had ever sequenced its genome.

Immediately after sequencing, a comparison was made between the original and 2 other genomes of Penicillium This check was intended to verify whether there were any drastic changes in the genetic composition from the original strain.

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An antibiotic is produced by molecules present in the defense system of fungi, such as the Penicillium However, pathogens are evolving more and more, this mechanism ends up generating the so-called "antibiotic resistance".

Where, the moment the pathogen evolves, the defense system of the fungus will try to bypass that organism, evolving in response. It's something similar to a war, only this one happens at the microscopic level. Thus, biologist Ayush Pathak, from Imperial College London stated that, "the research may help inspire new solutions to combat antibiotic resistance."

A Penicillium chrysogenum strain (Image: Public Domain CC BY-SA 3.0)

The antibiotic and the evolution of strains

In order that the study could be carried out, a small sample of the Penicillium rubens The new mould was sequenced and its final genome compared to the strains originating from the United States. From the results obtained, it was clear that the Penicillium of Fleming may have been the starting point for the creation of drugs in the UK.

Therefore, any notable differences between the strains from both countries were due to constant evolution. During the comparison phase, the team looked at two types of genes. The first encodes enzymes that help in the production of penicillin, while the second is the genes that regulate the production of the same enzymes.

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Despite presenting a similar genetic code for the regulatory enzymes, the original mold has a lower number of copies, which causes fewer penicillin strains to be produced. As for the coding genes, these had some differences. For the authors, the changes may be related to natural evolution.

Since the strains are in countries with distinct properties, they are threatened by pathogens that have their own characteristics. Thus, the fungi would need to fight their enemies in differentiated ways. It is believed that by unraveling this problem, the issue of antibiotic resistance can also be solved. Thus, "industrial production of penicillin has concentratedAnd the steps used to artificially improve production, led to changes in the number of genes," Pathak reported.

The study is available at Scientific Reports.

Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.