Streptomyces species are responsible for producing 50% of all known antibiotics, but many antibiotic producing pathways encoded within Streptomyces genomes are not activated under laboratory conditions.
It may be possible to induce cryptic antibiotic producing pathways in response to certain environmental signals, such as the relationship between the soil bacteria and the roots of a plant.
Root exudates produced by wheat plants attract bacteria, including Streptomyces, and have been shown to induce protection against the commercially important Take-all disease, provide nutrients and produce plant growth hormones.
Beth will be identifying which strains of Streptomyces, isolated from wheat roots, are best able to promote wheat growth and provide the best protection against Take-all disease.
The antibiotics that are responsible for the protective effects can then be identified and it will be determined whether wheat root exudates are able to switch on the production of antibiotics that are not normally induced under laboratory conditions.