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Medical News & Perspectives |

Snakevine Leads Scientists on Sinuous Drug Trail

M. J. Friedrich
JAMA. 2002;288(24):3095-3096. doi:10.1001/jama.288.24.3095.
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Manyallaluk, Australia—Ever since penicillin was derived from mold in the early part of the 20th century, researchers have scoured the earth in search of microorganisms that produce new and different antibiotics that may prove useful in fighting human infections. Microbes that live in the soil have been the most abundant source of these agents. But a recent finding suggests that when looking for new antibiotic-producing microbes, scientists might do well to brush the dirt from under their microscopes and replace it with woody plants.

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A tender young snakevine (Kennedia nigriscans) with heart-shaped leaves. (Photo credit: Kathleen Donald)

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Out in the Australian bush, Gary Strobel with a mature snakevine coiled tightly around a tree. (Photo credit: Suzan Strobel)

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Scanning electron micrograph of Streptomyces NRRL 30562 growing on the natural host, snakevine (Kennedia nigriscans), showing numerous mycelia bearing chains of spores × 4400. (Photo credit: W. M. Hess, Brigham Young University)

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The endophyte Streptomyces munumbi is shown here growing on a nutrient agar plate. (Photo credit: Gary Strobel)

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