• Enid Gonzalez-Orta

What I learned as a Scientist Working on the Tiny Earth Project by Anastasiya

As a Sacramento State student, I had the privilege of doing research in one of my biology classes for the Tiny Earth Network. I wanted to share my experience, what I learned and how it impacted me. Tiny Earth is a “global network of students and instructors conducting research on soil and antibiotics” [1]. My task was to gather a soil sample and do various experiments on it to see what microorganisms grew in the soil and which ones are possible antibiotic producers.

Why is this type of research important? Well that is what I learned. First of all, Antibiotics are used to kill bacterial infections not viral infections, which seems to be a common misconception and a factor in antibiotic resistance [2]. Bacteria are very smart organisms whose motto seems to be “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, as in Kelly Clarkson’s song. And with this motto they are capable of evolving and developing resistance to antibiotics. The fact that there has been very limited research in this field does not help the cause [3]. It is not cost – effective for pharmaceutical and other companies to invest in this type of research. Not only is it time – consuming and very expensive, but companies make little profit in antibiotic drugs [4].

Another thing I learned while doing research is that a lot of antibiotics are derived from soil [5]. The upper level of the soil is rich in nutrients and microorganisms [1] that is why when I was doing research I dug up and took a sample from the upper level of the soil. I was able to find a few microorganisms that had antibiotic characteristics. After working on this project, I learned about the causes and effects of the antibiotic crisis. I learned to appreciate the work that other scientists put into this type of research and for the Tiny Earth Network that promotes student research in finding new antibiotics.

1. Hernandez, S., Tsang, T., Bascom-Slack, C., Broderick, N., & Handelsman, J. (2018). Tiny Earth. Acton, MA: XanEdu Publishing Inc.

2. Levy, S. B., & Marshall, B. (2004). Antibacterial resistance worldwide: causes, challenges and responses. Nature medicine, 10(12), S122-S129.

3. Ward, A. L., Reddyvari, P., Borisova, R., Shilabin, A. G., & Lampson, B. C. (2018). An inhibitory compound produced by a soil isolate of Rhodococcus has strong activity against the veterinary pathogen R. equi. PloS one, 13(12).

4. Piddock, L. J. (2012). The crisis of no new antibiotics—what is the way forward?. The Lancet infectious diseases, 12(3), 249-253.5. Traxler, M. F., & Kolter, R. (2015). Natural products in soil microbe interactions and evolution. Natural product reports, 32(7), 956-970.


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