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Scientists to extract ancient bacteria from Batagai depression in bid to create new antibiotic range

By The Siberian Times reporter
04 March 2021

Expedition to the world’s biggest permafrost ‘crater’ in Yakutia seeks secret of taming antimicrobial resistance.

'We see that the situation with antibiotic resistance is very difficult indeed, and it is in the interests of both us (as scientists) and society to obtain prototypes of drugs for the treatment of hospital-obtained infections, and then bring them to production’, said Dr Artemy Goncharov, head of the Laboratory of Functional Genomics and Proteomics of Microorganisms at the Institute of Experimental Medicine

Researchers from St Petersburg Institute of Experimental Medicine are to study viruses and bacteria extracted from permafrost deposits of a giant thermokarst depression, known as the Batagai crater, to see if they might serve modern medicine in producing a new range of antibiotics. 

The tadpole-shaped depression near the village of Batagai, some 660km northeast of Yakutsk, appeared in the late 1960s when the forest in the area was cleared away. 

It has been growing ever since - lately increasing in size at up to 30 metres a year - and is now one kilometre long, 800 metres wide and over a hundred metres deep.

The depression is a treasure trove for scientists around the globe, as it contains ‘some of the best preserved and oldest frozen soils ever to be found in permafrost regions’, according to Professor Julian Murton, from the University of Sussex.

Scientists to extract ancient bacteria and viruses from Batagai depression in bid to create new antibiotic range


Scientists to extract ancient bacteria and viruses from Batagai depression in bid to create new antibiotic range


Scientists to extract ancient bacteria and viruses from Batagai depression in bid to create new antibiotic range
Scientists to extract ancient bacteria and viruses from Batagai depression in bid to create new antibiotic range. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Alexander Gabyshev


Cones of permafrost from the Batagai megaslump were drilled last year; this month the studies will begin in laboratories of Yakutsk and St-Petersburg. 

The hope is that micro-organisms preserved in samples aged up to 200,000 years old might be useful in creating a new range of antibiotics. 

‘This March I am flying to Yakutsk where we’ll select fragments of permafrost kerns to start working with them, using microbiological and molecular genetic methods. We are keen to get practical results as soon as possible.

'We see that the situation with antibiotic resistance is very difficult indeed, and it is in the interests of both us (as scientists) and society to obtain prototypes of drugs for the treatment of hospital-obtained infections, and then bring them to production’, said Dr Artemy Goncharov, head of the Laboratory of Functional Genomics and Proteomics of Microorganisms at the Institute of Experimental Medicine.

Inside the Batagai depression in Yakutia. Video: The Siberian Times


Several other teams - in Russia and in the UK - are studying the permafrost samples from the Batagai depression.

The research centres include the Komarov Botanical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Perm Federal Research Center, the Perm Institute of Ecology and Genetics of Microorganisms, the Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University and the University of Sussex (Britain).

The Batagai 'crater', Yakutia. Pictures: V.V. Kunitsky, The Siberian Times

Scientists to extract ancient bacteria and viruses from Batagai depression in bid to create new antibiotic range


Scientists to extract ancient bacteria and viruses from Batagai depression in bid to create new antibiotic range


Scientists to extract ancient bacteria and viruses from Batagai depression in bid to create new antibiotic rangeScientists to extract ancient bacteria and viruses from Batagai depression in bid to create new antibiotic range


Scientists to extract ancient bacteria and viruses from Batagai depression in bid to create new antibiotic range

Comments (2)

@Benedikt - love your comment. However I think that Pandora's box has unfortunately already been opened...

As the global warming intensifies the bacteria, viruses and microbes will also intensify because they thrive on warmth and heat. Be proud that countries and scientists like yours together with British scientists are not only genius visionaries they're revolutionists because the microbes will end up destroying all life on our planet... if microb resistance is not researched on now.

Be prepared for wearing your swan lake Odette/Odile tutu (like myself) within your microb resistant air bubble in the future...à la Michael Jackson!!!
Anonymous, Switzerland
06/03/2021 02:19
5
5
lets just hope they dont open a Pandora's Box...
Benedikt MORAK, Russia
04/03/2021 20:52
7
3
1

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