Sri Ramkumar Vijayan

Project title: Bio-mining of novel antibiotics from marine bacteria to fabricate wound healing patch

Host Institution: Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Host Supervisor: Prof. Lone Gram

Co-host Institution: Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

Co-host Supervisor: Prof. Shulamit Levenberg

Summary project: Multidrug resistant (MDR) bacterial infections are a major health care burden. Chronic infections due to MDR pathogens can be life-threatening. This is due to the rapid increase in antibiotic resistance and we urgently need to discover new antibiotics. Most of the current antibiotics are isolated from terrestrial microorganisms of the genus Streptomyces. The oceans cover 70% of our planet and supports a diversity of microbial life with many biochemical interactions and can thus be a tremendous source of new antibiotics. Microbes sense and secrete small molecules called secondary metabolites (SMs), to defend themselves against threat from other organisms or physical and chemical factors. Many of these molecules are a potential source of novel antibiotics as they act as competitive microbial weapons. However, most of the SMs are not produced in the laboratory due to absence of eliciting factors from their natural habitat.

Hence, current project is focused on inducing expressing of these SMs by co-culturing with other microbes to mimic their natural environment or using natural compounds as stimulator for their production. We intend to unlock biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) of several strains of marine Pseudoalteromonas or Vibrionaceae. The research lab of the project holds a completely unique and valuable resource of hundreds of Pseudoalteromonas and Vibrionaceae strains isolated on a global marine research expedition, the Galathea3 expedition and most of these have been genome sequenced. I will uncover the unhidden potential of these by co-culturing with interspecies and interkingdom microbes. Extracts of the co-cultures will be tested for antipathogen effect and bioactive extracts will be further characterized by LC-MS/MS. Any novel compound with antibiotic compounds will be combined with biopolymers for fabrication of wound healing patch using 3D printing that enhance efficiency and accelerate the healing process. This research will result in the discovery of novel bioactive compounds from marine bacteria and the competent compound will be developed for pre-clinical testing by fabricating novel antibacterial wound healing patch. Besides that, this research will open new avenues in novel antibiotic discovery and there by confronting antibiotic resistance.

Sri Ramkumar Vijayan