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Proliferation of Antibiotic-Producing Bacteria and Concomitant Antibiotic Production as the Basis for the Antibiotic Activity of Jordan's Red Soils

Falkinham, Joseph O. III., Wall, Thomas E., Tanner, Justin R., Tawaha, Khaled, Alali, Feras Q., Li, Chen, Oberlies, Nicholas H.
Applied and environmental microbiology 2009 v.75 no.9 pp. 2735-2741
Amoeba, Lysobacter, Micrococcus luteus, Staphylococcus aureus, antibiotics, antimicrobial properties, bacteria, bacteriophages, incubation period, methanol, soil, soil inoculation, Jordan
Anecdotes, both historical and recent, recount the curing of skin infections, including diaper rash, by using red soils from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Following inoculation of red soils isolated from geographically separate areas of Jordan, Micrococcus luteus and Staphylococcus aureus were rapidly killed. Over the 3-week incubation period, the number of specific types of antibiotic-producing bacteria increased, and high antimicrobial activity (MIC, ~10 μg/ml) was observed in methanol extracts of the inoculated red soils. Antibiotic-producing microorganisms whose numbers increased during incubation included actinomycetes, Lysobacter spp., and Bacillus spp. The actinomycetes produced actinomycin C₂ and actinomycin C₃. No myxobacteria or lytic bacteriophages with activity against either M. luteus or S. aureus were detected in either soil before or after inoculation and incubation. Although protozoa and amoebae were detected in the soils, the numbers were low and did not increase over the incubation period. These results suggest that the antibiotic activity of Jordan's red soils is due to the proliferation of antibiotic-producing bacteria.