Many drugs, including the antibiotic streptomycin, are derived from soil microbes called actinomycetes. Lately, however, scientists have been wondering whether they have wrung out all of the drugs possible from these bacteria.
Now, William Fenical and his colleagues at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., have found a large source of previously unknown strains of actinomycetes that may make chemicals with antibiotic or cancer-fighting properties.
Fenical discovered the new bacteria, which he dubs Salinospora, in deep ocean sediments collected from all over the globe. In preliminary benchtop tests, many of the 2,500 Salinospora strains identified by Fenical produced potenti