Abandoned Toxic Pit Might Have Next Antibiotic

Article Title:  Fungal duo isolated from toxic lake produce novel antibiotic

Source:  C&En

Date: 4-19-17

Link:  https://cen.acs.org/articles/95/i17/Fungal-duo-isolated-toxic-lake-produce-novel-antibiotic.html

Summary: In Montana there is an abandoned mining pit called  Berkeley Pit. Since it was abandoned in 1983 water has leaked in and make it into a toxic pool with a pH of 2.5. It is so toxic that thousands of snow geese died last winter after they landed in it. However microbes love the pit. Two scientist from the University of Montana Andrea A. Stierleand  and Donald B. Sterile who have been studying the fungus in the lake have found that two  Penicillium fungus together make a new antibiotic. The antibiotic isn’t really a super new shape but it seems to act differently from know antibiotics.

Connection:  Antibiotics we learned we discovered  from a penicillin fungus by Alexander Fleming, so I thought it was really cool that we still find antibacterials like that. Could it be that fungus are adapting their antibacterials to fight resistant bacteria? This article also connects to the section on what bacteria use as energy sources, as finding life in an inhospitable place like an abandoned mining pit with pH2.5 is incredible and show how microbes can adapt to use almost anything.

Critical Analysis:  The article doesn’t give much on the antibacterial agent it’s self, however it does provide us with a picture of the its chemical structure and a link to the article that the scientists published. The purpose of the post must have been to inform the public of a new discovery in science and I think it does this very well. How the article starts by describing the location of the discovery really draws readers and helps the mission of the article.

Question:  We have learned a bit about how bacteria survive in inhospitable places like this pit, but how do fungus do it? How do fungus deal with low pH and high concentrations of heavy metals? Also what do the fungus use as an energy source?

3 Comments for “Abandoned Toxic Pit Might Have Next Antibiotic”



I hope that the antibiotics that they get out of fungi will not themselves cause trouble. Fungi may be able to survive in harsh environment because they can create tough spores



I found this an informitive article about how life can find a way in envrioments compleatly toxic to life we can see. I did some research on how fungi is able to hevey metal ions in their metabolism, but unfortuently, it seems the research has not uncovered the exact mechanism yet. This paper, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/096085249500072M, sujests that the PH matters to the fungi when absorbing hevey metals, in addition to temperature, element concentration, and the overall biomass of the fungi. the PH of 2.5 might help the fungi by making these metal ions avalible to them, alowing them to utalize them to grow.



I agree with your critical analysis! I think that the opening draws the reader in giving it a chance for people to gain information rather than being turned away in the first couple sentences! I also thought the penicillin was coincidental, because we all know how Fleming mistakenly discovered Penicillin. Now, due to an accident by nature, another antibiotic is found. Intriguing! I’m no expert on how to answer your question. I image that fungi have to be able to survive in a similar but different manner than bacteria that are acid-loving. First off, they can have hard outer casing which protect the inner cell. Though they live in highly acidic environments, they find a way to pump out extra H+ in order to keep the insides of their cells fairly neutral. The acid may help break down the metals so it can use it biologically like some bacteria are able to oxidize iron. The fungus may also live symbiotically with bacteria that are able to do this for them. If it’s a tar pit, maybe the fungus is deriving its energy through carbon, or is using the heavy metals themselves for their redox reactions.