Science, Technology & Environment

Malacidins: Scientists discover new class of antibiotics from soil

Scientists from The Rockefeller University in New York have reported discovery of a new class of antibiotics called malacidins. It has been produced by microorganisms living in soil and dirt and is capable of killing off several antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Discovery

The new family of antibiotics comes from molecules present in large variety of soils. Scientists had analysed more than 1000 unique soil samples across US to better understand how new class of antibiotics is produced and how it can be exploited for fighting bacteria. They had used DNA information that encodes production of antibiotic in daptomycin to study it. This discovery could be a useful weapon in field of medicines.

Significance

Malacidins are distinctive class of antibiotics that are commonly encoded in soil microbiomes. They have never been reported in culture-based NP (Natural Products) discovery efforts.

Malacidins are active against multidrug-resistant pathogens, sterilise methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus  (MRSA) skin infections in animal wound model and did not select for resistance in laboratory conditions.

The malacidins was tested on rats with MRSA skin infections. The condition was cured, and even after 20 days of continued contact with malacidins, the rodents did not experience any side effects.

Concern

Malacidins only target gram-positive bacteria with a very thick cell wall. It is ineffective against gram-negative bacteria which cause cholera, pneumonia, sexually transmitted diseases, and plague. Thus, it does not make it universal cure against all bacteria.

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ONGC to introduce Asia’s first large scale CO2 injection technique at Gandhar field

State owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is planning to introduce carbon dioxide (CO2) injection technology in its Gandhar oil field in Gujarat. It will be first large scale CO2-injected project in Asia.

Its purpose is to recover extra 20 million barrels of crude oil under enhanced oil recovery (EOR) programme. EOR programme aims at recovering up to 20% of residual oil from ageing oil fields to improve India’s energy security.

Key Facts

Gandhar located in Gujarat is one of ONGC’s major brownfields and was discovered in 1983. The field produces approximately 30,000 barrels of oil per day and is on the decline.

Under this project, ONGC plans to invest $75 million in CO2 capture and another $200 million in injector producer network to recover an extra 15% of residual oil currently valued at $1.36 billion. It will be operational in 20 months. ONGC is in talks with National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) for utilising nearly 5 million tonnes of emitted gas (CO2) from the latter’s Gandhar plant.

CO2 injection technology

CO2 injection technology is a proven concept in the West specially the US and Canada. Under it, CO2 gas is injected with residual oil in the ageing field in which total oil production has been declining. It reduces its viscosity and makes it easier to displace oil from the rock pores. CO2 gas also swells oil, thereby pushing it towards the producing well for extraction.

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