Potential Anthrax Treatment Found From Houseplant Bacteria

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Anthrax Vaccine

Scientists have discovered a potential treatment for anthrax by examining how the bacterium Pectobacterium chrysanthemi, a common blight to houseplants, is chemically structured.

The researchers observed how the bacteria steal iron from plants, especially African violets. The result is that houseplants can no longer grow. They saw that achromobactin, an enzyme catalyst, binds citric acid, which is vital to delivering iron to houseplants. When the researchers blocked achromobactin, the plants were no longer starved for iron. The researchers found that their discovery of the houseplant bacteria might also apply to treating Anthrax and other deadly infections.

Next, Dr Daniel Oves-Costales, Dr Lijiang Song and Professor Gregory L. Challis, researchers at the University of Warwick found that Anthrax also uses an enzyme involved in the binding of citric acid, in the same way used by the houseplant bacteria. The researchers deduced they could use the information to block both the African violet and Anthrax bacteria.


"Inhibiting this citric acid-based process could be even more effective in combating an anthrax infection than it would be in combating the African violet pathogen, because the African Violet pathogen has a second siderophore that can harvest iron from the host and could attempt to struggle on with just this, whereas the anthrax pathogen appears not to have such a back up mechanism," says Gregory Challis.

The discovery may also lead to ways to treat other diseases such as MRSA and E.coli through the development of a new class of drugs.

The new research shows potential for the treatment of Anthrax and has major implications for protecting humans from deadly bacteria.

University of Warwick