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Microbes Discovered in Atacama Desert Soil May Help Find cure for HIV

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Published on : Nov 29, 2017

Scientists from the Newcastle University in the UK have found several microorganisms in the Atacama Desert at Chile that could have the potential of treating HIV. The desert is known to be one of the earth’s driest and highest place. These exciting findings have been derived from the samples of soil taken from heights of nearly 3,000 to 5,000 m above the sea level.

Michael Goodfellow, one of the researchers from the Newcastle University, said that the research centered on actinobacteria, which are considered keystone species of our ecosystems and are known as an unparalleled source of a variety of bioactive compounds.

In the study published in the Extremophiles journal, he added that the landscape was a surprisingly extraordinary source of actinobacterial dark matter. This dark matter is rich in the vast majority of microbes that are not currently cultivable by microbiologists. He said that the thing that is particularly interesting is that the Atacama Desert soils, which were thought to be lifeless until recently, have so much dark matter.

The researchers also state that nearly 40% of the actinobacteria found in the samples cannot be given recognized names as they have never been discovered before. Researchers believe that this massive seed bank of microbes represents a huge untapped source of potential new microbes for manufacturing new antibiotics. This could be extremely beneficial in this era as resistance to antibiotics is increasingly becoming a significant threat to the world population.

Researchers have added that one strain of bacteria discovered in the black matter can prove to be inhibitor of an enzyme that helps the HIV virus in reproducing itself. This could help scientists get crucial clues for the development of an effective anti-HIV medicine.

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