Clays with antibacterial properties found near Crater Lake in Oregon could eventually lead to new agents in the fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, according to a new study.
As antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains emerge and pose increasing health risks, new antibacterial agents are urgently needed,” said Lynda Williams, a biogeochemist at Arizona State University (ASU) and co-author of the new study in Environmental Geochemistry and Health, in a statement.
The team, led by ASU graduate student Keith Morrison, recovered red, white and blue clays from a hydrothermally altered volcanic deposit near Crater Lake. The blue and white clays came from reduced, or oxygen poor, mineral zones in the deposit, while the red clays were sampled from oxidized mineral zones.
The clays were then incubated with different strains of E. coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis, which causes skin infections. The team found the blue clays to be the most antibacterial, while the white clays reduced the E. coli populations by about half and S. epidermidis populations by roughly a quarter. The red clays did not show an antibacterial effect. In the presence of the reduced blue and white clays, E. colicells also precipitated intracellular nanoparticles of iron oxide.
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