Pure microbes will be isolated by UQ researchers and used as a resource to search for new and improved antibiotics. High-resolution images of the microbial communities found in each soil sample will be uploaded to the Soils for Science website, where the public can find their own sample(s), to zoom in and view the marvellous and miniature world of microbes.
The Need for Antibiotics
The antibiotics revolution that began early last century with the discovery of penicillin heralded a golden age in healthcare. With the emergence of modern antibiotics, for the first time in human history, infectious diseases were no longer a death sentence. In the decades that followed microbe-inspired antibiotics sparked a revolution in global science, healthcare and commerce, raising the quality of life, and life expectancy of millions (even billions) of people worldwide.
Sadly, in recent years the protection offered by modern antibiotics has waned and, with very few new antibiotics coming to market, and escalating levels of antibiotic resistance, the handful of vintage antibiotics that remain are struggling to provide the level of infection control that the public has come to expect. Antibiotic resistance and an inability to effectively manage infectious diseases have been identified as one of the biggest public health challenges of our time.
Soils for Science will provide the Australian public (home and landowners, schools, community, social and sporting groups and others) with educational material on antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, and the important role played by microbes in the past, present and future discovery of antibiotics. Soils for Science also provides a platform for public engagement in citizen science. Registered Soils for Science App users can submit an online request for a free soil sampling kit in Australia, which includes sample bags, a pre-labelled, pre-paid return postage pouch. All microbes isolated from Soils for Science soil samples will be cryopreserved and registered with 'MICROBES AUSTRALIA', where they will be queued for taxonomic, genomic, chemical and antibiotic profiling. Promising leads will be prioritised for detailed investigation by University of Queensland researchers, to learn more about the microscopic life with Australian soils, and in doing so assist in the discovery of new antibiotics.