Russian and Uzbek researchers have discovered that the extract of the hyssop plant contains penicillic acid and other molecules that can effectively inhibit the growth of some pathogenic microbes. These substances are produced by fungi that are symbionts of the plant.
Research on the properties of hyssop
A group of Russian and Uzbek researchers studied the properties of hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis species) growing in Dagestan and other Caucasian regions of Russia. This plant was used to treat infections in antiquity, and recently it has begun to attract the attention of scientists as an alternative to existing antibiotics that are no longer active against pathogenic bacteria.
The experiments conducted by the researchers indicated that colonies of nine species of so-called endophytes, microscopic fungi, are present inside this plant. One of these species, Chaetomium elatum, produced large amounts of penicillic acid, one of the degradation products of the antibiotic penicillin.
Action of hyssop extract on bacteria and fungi
Scientists tested the effect of the extract of these fungi, as well as pure penicillinic acid on several pathogens, including fungi of the species Candida albicans, which causes thrush, Synegnoia coli and dangerous strains of Escherichia coli, as well as on the soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis. These experiments showed that the fungal extract inhibited the growth of all the bacteria and fungus studied, and it did so 2-7% more effectively than the existing antibiotics ampicillin and ceftriaxone.
In its pure form, penicillinic acid did not act on fungi, but effectively inhibited the growth of microbes. In the future, this will allow it to be used as the basis for a new generation of antibiotics that will be equally effective against free-floating microbes and bacteria hidden inside biofilms.
Penicillinic acid: a new antibiotic
“Penicillinic acid works well on both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. An important plus is that it does not cause drug resistance in Gram-negative bacteria. In addition, it shows equal efficacy against free-floating and biofilm-associated bacteria. This will allow penicillinic acid to be used as an antibiotic in the future,” Nazarov summarized.
This discovery could change the future of medicine, as existing antibiotics can no longer cope with some types of bacteria, and scientists are looking for new ways to fight infections. But more research is needed before penicillinic acid is available for use as an antibiotic.