NOV 98] UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK PRESS RELEASE
Where There's Muck There Is DNA Brass
at the University of Warwick are to co-ordinate a European research programme which will
quite literally act on the old adage that "where there's muck there's brass".
They will search soils and sludge from the bottom of the sea for new forms of DNA that can
be used to make the next generation of antibiotics. It has long been known that soil
contains a staggering range of biological organisms.
Scientists have found several of these organisms to contain
useful medical or industrial properties and have cultivated those organisms for such use.
However, researchers have only been able to cultivate 1% of the biological matter found in
The rest of this vast biological reservoir exists only in
minute quantities, as fragments of full organisms, or in quiescent states that require
very precise conditions for re-activation. Thus, over 99% of the soil's biodiversity was
inaccessible to researchers - until now. University of Warwick biologist, Dr Elizabeth
Wellington (the research project leader) will co-ordinate 6 labs across Europe and guide
them in the use of techniques which allow them to extract the DNA of these previously
inaccessible organisms direct from the soil. This vast new supply of novel DNA can then be
examined to find material that will provide new antibiotics (which will help in the battle
against antibiotic resistant superbugs), enzymes, and other useful biotechnology products.
Peter Dunn, University Press Officer 01203 523708
Dr Wellington 01203 523184