Novel bacteria with medical applications found in Tubbataha

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when disease-causing microbes change over time to become ‘superbugs’. They are harder to treat because they can resist the drug’s effects, thus increasing the risk of severe infection and death. It is projected that by 2050, drug-resistant microbes will cause ten million deaths every year if the problem is not solved. This “silent pandemic” must be addressed urgently, or the death toll could continue to rise. To help fight AMR, we have to discover and develop new antibiotics.

We have exhausted sources of novel drugs and medicines from land and we now turn to the ocean for sources of novel drugs.  Our exploration in Tubbataha led us to the discovery of a new bacteria dwelling on marine sediments, a.k.a. “Bacteria sa Buhangin”, which we propose to name Streptomyces tubbatahanensis sp. nov.  (’sis. N.L. masc. adj. tubbatahanensis pertaining to Tubbataha, where the type strain was isolated).

The bacterium produces many natural compounds that can be developed into an antibiotic that could one day address the problem of AMR. This finding is only the beginning of a process that could take years to produce the drug that will alleviate the suffering of humanity. Yet, this new scientific breakthrough demonstrates that Tubbataha is home to new and novel marine microorganisms that are potential sources of compounds with medical and pharmaceutical uses.

Doralyn S. Dalisay, Ph.D.

Director | Center for Chemical Biology and Biotechnology

Department of Science and Technology Balik Scientist Awardee

The full research paper can be accessed here: Streptomyces tubbatahanensis sp. nov., a Novel Actinomycete Isolated from Sulu Sea, Philippines