Peatland potential as source of microbes for antibiotics production

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Illustration of peatland. (Source:

The medical field is still faced with problems related to the use of antibiotics for therapy, both from the resistance, persistence and tolerance due to the pattern microbial behavior. Antibiotic resistance is like a time bomb, which if not immediately addressed, we will all go back to the dark ages before the discovery of antibiotics in the 19th century.

There is misconception that antibiotics are often referred as a cure for all diseases leading to the phenomenon of drug abuse and drug misused as antibiotics are used excessively with incorrect doses and indications. One of the most widely used and most commonly used classes of antibiotics is ß-lactam. The international market for ß-lactam consumption is approximately US $ 15 billion per year or 65% of the total antibiotic market.

This fact is reasonable, because ß-lactam has a high level of selectivity with relatively low toxicity. Ventola (2015) states the more antibiotic is used, the more bacteria will be resistant to the antibiotic. This statement is related to the emergence of superbug bacteria strains, which according to some experts are more dangerous than terrorism or climate change.

The incidence of infection by bacteria producing Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamase (ESBL) is increasing throughout the world and varies in different countries. Based on the Tigecycline Evaluation and Surveillance Trial (TEST) of the global surveillance data base, the proportion of isolates originating from Latin America, followed by Asia / Pacific, Europe and North America respectively 44.0%, 22.4%, 13.3%, and 7.5% (Parthasarathy et al ., 2013). Surveillance results in Indonesia in 2012 showed a decrease in inappropriate use of antibiotics, but there was an increase in the prevalence of ESBL K. pneumoniae (58%) and E. coli (52%) andmethicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (24%) (Hadi et al ., 2013).

Some of the latest generation of antibiotics have been widely used to treat ESBL infections, but while new antibiotics are introduced, the process of resistance will follow quickly. Overcoming this problem, we need to think about finding alternatives to new active ingredients that can inhibit ESBL activities.

Streptomyces is known as a source of important bioactive compounds since it was discovered in 1943 by Waksman, even many have been used for clinical therapy and have high commercial value. Until now, the screening effort of active ingredients from microbes classified as filamentous bacteria has been continuously carried out to explore new active compounds. Streptomycetes spp. has been proven to have the capacity to produce various kinds of bioactive compounds with broad spectrum activity.

It has been reported that until now the Streptomyces species has produced more than 7600 compounds representing (45%) bioactive groups of microbial metabolites (Bérdy, 2005). Recent studies have found secondary metabolites of 1,2-benzene dicarboxylic acid, mono (2-ethylhexyl) ester (DMEHE) from Marine Streptomyces sp . VITSJK8, which has the potential to be anti-ESBL (Subashini and Kannabiran, 2014).

Streptomycetes are known as soil microbes with a pH that is more neutral to basic (Kontro et al ., 2005). It is interesting to study the ability of Streptomyces to grow and produce active metabolites in habitats with acidic pH, because until now, knowledge on the biological characteristics and ecological functions of Streptomyces and the role of these organisms in the community of soil microorganisms is still limited, especially those living in extreme habitats.

One type of soil that has a unique character is peat soils with high acidity. Included as organic soil types, peat is formed from the remnants of plants that have died and decomposed into organic sediment with the help of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. The accumulation of organic matter in peat soils provides a variety of nutrients suitable for microbial growth and development. Some of the factors that influence bacterial activity in peat soil include humidity, temperature, nutrient availability and substrate combined with peat properties such as pH, cations, cation exchange capacity and degree of soil moisture.

Indonesia is the fourth country with the largest peatland in the world (20 million ha) after Canada, the Soviet Union and the United States. Peatlands are generally found in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua or around 10.8 percent of the land area. Peatlands in Central Kalimantan have been widely studied as a source of Streptomyces and are reported to produce more than 7600 compounds to overcome antibiotics that have been resistant so far.

Nawan et al. (2020) has succeeded in isolating Streptomyces spp. from the peat soils of Central Kalimantan. The results of screening in the form of several active bacterial isolates that can inhibit the growth of Escherichia coli ESBL. The results of the identification of Gene Bank stated that the isolate was new. The antibacterial activity test of the isolate fermentation results was carried out on the International Streptomyces Project (ISP) -4 liquid media, using a rotary shaker incubator 150 rpm, temperature 28 ° C.

The inhibition of the filtrate from the fermentation on the 12th day to ESBL was tested by agar diffusion method using 250 ppm Kanamycin sulfate standard. The average test results showed 33 mm and 25 mm inhibition zone diameters for ESBL Escherichia coli 6024 and Escherichia coli 6110. The Streptomyces strain obtained has the potential to be developed as a new source of antibiotics.

Author: Isnaeni

Details of this research can be accessed in our article at:

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