Turkeys provide more than a Thanksgiving feast

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  • Published: Nov 27, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Base Peak / NMR Knowledge Base
thumbnail image: Turkeys provide more than a Thanksgiving feast

On Thanksgiving Day, let us not overlook another great contribution that the humble turkey is making to society. It is the source of an antibiotic that could be active against about 50% of all infectious bacteria.

The compound in question is micrococcin P1, discovered about 30 years ago at Brigham Young University when its full potential was not realised. It was used to produce vaccines for turkeys at that time but has recently been “rediscovered” by scientists at the same centre.

Now, its structure has been completely elucidated and is shown in Journal of Bacteriology to be a complex thiopeptide following detailed analysis by NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. At the same time, its mechanism of production by bacteria in turkeys was also exposed.

The practicality of this antibiotic being brought into use is still in question due to its complex structure, but it could be isolated from cultures of the bacteria rather than a purely synthetic method to provide a powerful weapon in the fight against infections.

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