Microbial matter comes out of the dark
Science News - 09/07/2016
Maybe not. In 2015, a research team led by scientists from Northeastern University in Boston captured headlines after describing in Nature a new chemical extracted from a ground-dwelling bacterium in Maine. The scientists isolated the organism using the iChip, a thumb-sized tool that contains almost 400 separate wells, each large enough to hold only an individual bacterial cell plus a smidgen of its home dirt. The bacteria grow on this scaffold in part because they never leave their natural surroundings. In lauding the discovery, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, called the iChip “an ingenious approach that enhances our ability to search one of nature’s richest sources of potential antibiotics: soil.” So far, the research team has discovered about 50,000 new strains of bacteria.