April 02, 2019
1 min read

Bacteria in fish mucus show activity against MRSA

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Sandra Loesgen, PhD
Sandra Loesgen

The protective mucus that coats young fish contains bacteria that demonstrate activity against some pathogens, including MRSA, according to findings presented at the American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition.

Sandra Loesgen, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry at Oregon State University, and colleagues said their research revealed “a potentially untapped source for antibiotic discovery.”

“We have just begun to understand the human microbiome. We are even farther away from understanding the fish microbiome,” Loesgen told Infectious Disease News. “There is potential to find new antibiotics in fish-associated bacteria.”

Loesgen and colleagues collaborated with Erin (Misty) Paig-Tran, PhD, an assistant professor and marine biologist at California State University, Fullerton, and her team, who provided swabs of mucus from juvenile deep sea and surface-dwelling Pacific fish.

Photo of  Molly Austin and Paige Mandelare as they explore the fish microbiome in its early stage in Sandra Loesgen’s lab 
Molly Austin (right), an undergraduate researcher, and Paige Mandelare (left), a graduate student, explore the fish microbiome in its early stages in Sandra Loesgen’s lab.
Source: Sandra Loesgen

Fish are coated in a mucus that protects them from bacteria, fungi and viruses, and the substance can trap microbes before it can cause an infection, according to a news release.

Loesgen and colleagues said they were able to isolate 47 microbial strains from the samples and tested them for their potential to produce antibiotics. They discovered five bacterial extracts that demonstrated strong inhibition against MRSA, three extracts that strongly inhibited Candida albicans, and one extract — derived from a pink surfperch — that exhibited strong activity against MRSA and a colon carcinoma cell line, according to the release.

“We need to work hand in hand with microbiologists to grasp the bacterial species diversity that can be found in the fish microbiome, with fish biologists to understand the when [and] how these fish are gaining [and] maintaining their microbiome and to be able to ask questions about what is a healthy microbiome,” Loesgen said.

“Compounds that we identify with antibacterial activity need to be further tested against a panel of human pathogens and pathogens that are already resistant to clinically used drugs, and if effective, needs steps may include further testing in vivo.” – by Marley Ghizzone


Austin M, et al. Abstract BIOL 99. Presented at: The American Chemical Society Spring 2019 National Meeting & Exposition; March 28-April 4, 2019; Orlando, Florida.

Disclosure: Loesgen reports no relevant financial disclosure.