Prof. Ch. Venkata Ramana, Professor and Head, Department of Plant Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad (UoH) and his Researchers have discovered a novel species of a bacterium that produces antibiotic. Found in the Buffalo Lake on the University campus the newly discovered bacterium, Planctopirus hydrillae, may provide a solution to the problem of diseases becoming resistant to majority of known drugs. The new bacteria will also clean up ammonia waste, a growing environmental concern.

With disease-causing germs failing to respond to even the most potent antibiotics, scientists have been on a spree to find drugs to overcome the challenge of antimicrobial resistance. In this scenario, the discovery of antibiotic producing Planctomycete may help in the development of a new drug. The bacterium was isolated from aquatic plant Hydrilla. The discovery was published in the latest issue of the scientific publication, Journal of Antibiotics.


Fig. 1. Scanning electron microscopy photographs of strain JC280T highlighting aggregate formation (A) tube like stalk and crateriforms are on the cell surface (B) budding cells can visualize in (C, D) sections

“Our laboratory is working on discovery of new bacteria and novel biomolecules, which are useful for human, animal and environmental health. Antibiotics are one such important biomolecules which we are targeting from anaerobic bacteria and from uncommon bacteria. This is because most pathogens are becoming resistant to the most common antibiotics produced by many known and common microorganisms,” said Prof. Ch. Venkata Ramana.

He added, “The new species reported by the researchers is a very uncommon bacterium belonging to the phylum Planctomycetes and was isolated from the university campus”. “This is the first report of an antibiotic producing bacterium from the phylum Planctomycetes. Cultivating the bacteria of this phylum is extremely difficult and we are the first group from India to develop the art of cultivating these bacteria which are very useful even for environmental issues particularly for the treatment of ammonia waste. These bacteria are called as “Anamox (Anaerobic ammonia oxidising) bacteria”, Prof. Ramana said.

Baffalo lake on the UoH Campus

Bafelo lake on the UoH Campus

Dr. Ramana, who was awarded with “TATA Innovative Fellowship”, said he and his team has been working to identify the chemical nature of the antibiotic and the spectrum of antibiotic. They have also sequenced the genome of the bacterium. The research team include researchers from Bacterial Discovery Laboratory, Centre for Environment, Institute of Science and Technology, JNTU, Hyderabad and UoH.