Antibiotics are a part of nature, as is antibiotic resistance. A study on how a powerful antibiotic agent gets made in nature solved a decades-old mystery and opens up new avenues of research into thousands of similar molecules.
The team focused on a class of compounds that includes dozens with antibiotic properties. The most famous of these is nisin, a natural product in milk that can be synthesized in the lab and is added to foods as a preservative. Nisin has been used to combat food-borne pathogens since the late 1960s.