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Fields & Applications Mass Spectrometry, Pharma & Biopharma

Bearfaced Research

A team of scientists has developed a screening technology for antibiotics using microbes from a curious source: saliva taken from an East Siberian brown bear.

Why would anyone want to collect bear drool? Co-author Konstantin Severinov explains that diversity is the key: “Bears have a diverse diet, so we assumed that their microbiome will also be diverse. They also have lots of drool!” The challenge, of course, was to catch one. They used a trained hunting husky to lure a bear into a cage; once inside it was offered a stick covered with absorbent canvas, which it duly bit, says Severinov. “There was plenty of saliva to pack into test tubes once it let go!” After this rather undignified treatment, the bear was given a consolation prize of honey and released.

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  1. SS Terekhov et al., “Ultrahigh-throughput functional profiling of microbiota communities”, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 115, 9551–9556 (2018). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1811250115.

About the Author

Roisin McGuigan

I have an extensive academic background in the life sciences, having studied forensic biology and human medical genetics in my time at Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities. My research, data presentation and bioinformatics skills plus my ‘wet lab’ experience have been a superb grounding for my role as an Associate Editor at Texere Publishing. The job allows me to utilize my hard-learned academic skills and experience in my current position within an exciting and contemporary publishing company.

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