There is a world of exciting and diverse microscopic organisms living right below our feet. Everywhere we step, there is an unimaginable number of bacteria, each with a unique set of characteristics and abilities. These microorganisms live in harmony with each other, often having relationships that are beneficial to themselves and to other organisms around them, known as symbiotic relationship. Microorganisms create these symbiotic relationships by releasing chemicals, which can either help out other organisms. But the chemicals released can be used as a defense mechanism to prevent the growth of other bacteria; these chemicals are known as antibiotic compounds. Antibiotic compounds have been one of the greatest discoveries in the field of medicine, allowing for the treatment of previously deadly bacterial infections. But in recent times, antibiotics have been overprescribed, leading to the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria.
These antibiotic resistant bacteria are becoming more common, resulting in many antibiotics becoming completely ineffective against certain bacterial infections. Health agencies, such as the World Health Organization, have created a list of the most important bacteria to find antibiotics for. The growing prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria has lead to a greater interest in finding more antibiotic producers, with a large part of this worldwide effort focusing on looking for possible producers right underneath our feet. Bacteria collected from soil samples across the world have shown promising results, with a variety of antibiotic producing microbes being discovered.
Although there are countless bacteria organisms and colonies living underground, they seldom grow or display the same characteristics in laboratory conditions as they do in their natural environment. This has led to the increased research and development of techniques that allow for the culturing of bacteria that were previously unable to be grown in laboratory conditions. This advancement in culturing techniques will allow researchers to grow a much more diverse population of bacteria, and possibly discover new antibiotic producers.