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Response to jpak (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 12:31 PM

4. Well, journos do oversimplify in the lead paras ...

If you read further down, you learn that the thinking here is not that people weren't looking in soil samples (that's largely where antibiotics have been discovered -- and in the sea, sewage, etc.) but that they had been using specific techniques which don't work well for many microbes. Rapid DNA sequencing has made it possible to analyze microbial DNA directly from soil samples and examine those for clues to create new antibiotic screening methods, rather than isolating the organisms that produce the antibiotics by growing them in cultures.

Note that the researchers here were looking for a specific genetic sequence, based on a reasonable assumption -- one which will not be true in all cases, and thus allow some candidates to be missed, as well. The challenge to broadening this approach will be figuring out what sequences to search for -- they are not directly seeking the specific sequences for making the antibiotics, since they don't even know what those would be. So what do they look for ?

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