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  • Writer's pictureEnid Gonzalez-Orta

#SciComm: Screening for Antibiotic Production by Banoo R.

The topic of my #SciComm project was about my own personal experience within the Tiny Earth Project.More specifically, I wanted to showcase the diversity of colony morphologies of soil bacteria and the utilization of the Safe-ESKAPES to screen isolates for antibiotic production. I chose to embroider the colony morphologies of my isolates while screening for antibiotic production against Acinetobacter baylyi, the Safe-ESKAPE relative to Acinetobacter baumannii. The reason why we tested antibiotic production using A. baylyi was because A. baumannii is classified as a multi-drug resistant pathogen that is incredibly common in hospital settings (Acinetobacter in Healthcare Settings | HAI | CDC, 2019). If our isolates can produce an antibiotic that clears A. baylyi, it means it could target A. baumannii as well. I decided to base my project on this topic because I was surprised to see so many diverse types of soil bacteria fail to produce antibiotics. While patching out bacteria for my Safe-ESKAPE screening tests, I noticed a number of my bacteria had hues of yellow, green, and orange on my 10% TSA plates. These hues of color are indicators of metabolic differences, usually produced by bacteria in response to stressors (Agarwal et al., 2023). In addition, I noticed that some of the patches of bacteria had formed excessive mucus and were very slimy compared to the others. I found this interesting as it could indicate extracellular capsule formation. Seeing this capsule production from my soil isolates made sense as many types of bacteria produce capsules to survive the ever-changing harsh environments they reside in (Rendueles et al., 2017).

What I hoped to portray in my embroidered artwork was how impossible it was to guess which types of bacteria would produce antibiotics based on their colony morphology alone. Although I patched an array of bacteria with a variety of pigments and textures, it was an isolate with simple white and circular colony morphology that ended up producing an antibiotic against A. baylyi. It goes to show that you should never judge a soil bacterium by its cover.


“Acinetobacter in Healthcare Settings | HAI | CDC,” November 6, 2019.

Agarwal, Himani, Sneh Bajpai, Arti Mishra, Isha Kohli, Ajit Varma, Mireille Fouillaud, Laurent Dufossé, and Naveen Chandra Joshi. “Bacterial Pigments and Their Multifaceted Roles in Contemporary Biotechnology and Pharmacological Applications.” Microorganisms 11, no. 3 (February 28, 2023): 614.

Rendueles, Olaya, Marc Garcia-Garcerà, Bertrand Néron, Marie Touchon, and Eduardo P. C. Rocha. “Abundance and Co-Occurrence of Extracellular Capsules Increase Environmental Breadth: Implications for the Emergence of Pathogens.” PLoS Pathogens 13, no. 7 (July 24, 2017): e1006525.


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