Actinobacteria have provided a rich source of novel antimicrobial compounds throughout the antibiotic era. Thermophilic Actinobacteria growing at higher temperatures (>50 °C), have not been extensively studied, despite producing important antibiotics such as thermomycin and anthramycin. We are testing the hypothesis that thermophilic Actinobacteria produce new and unusual antimicrobials at higher temperatures, potentially leading to the discovery of novel heat stable compounds; especially those active against life-threatening fungal infections in humans such as invasive aspergillosis caused by Aspergillus fumigatus, which has developed resistance to current treatments. Compost is a rich source of thermophilic Actinobacteria responsible for generating the heat required for decomposition and yet this niche has been overlooked in terms of natural product discovery. A. fumigatusis a fungus that also lives in compost and also contributes to the composting process and we reasoned that Actinobacteria living in this environment might display activity against pathogenic strains of the fungus. Samples from a series of ‘windrows’ at a commercial green waste processing facility yielded 13 thermophilic Actinobacteria, and strains of Aspergillus fumigatus. The phylogeny and species identity of the bacterial strains were determined by 16S rRNA sequencing. Candidate strains were screened for the ability to inhibit ESKAPE pathogens as well as A. fumigatus, using agar overlays and MIC assays. Selected strains were analysed by whole genome DNA sequencing and likely antimicrobials predicted. Compound identification using mass spectrometry and metabolic profiling has been undertaken on strains that display antibiotic activity, providing a path for the development of new antimicrobials for clinical use.

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