Web Zap*Germs Archive

November 30, 2005

Natural Antibiotic Found in American Oysters

In the last 20 years, a host of diseases (including the parasites Dermo and MSX) have virtually destroyed the oyster industry in the Chesapeake Bay, and with the bivalves the traditional lifestyle of the Bay watermen. Now some researchers in North Carolina have discovered a peptide antibiotic in American oysters, which they're calling "American oyster defensin" (AOD). The peptide is effective against specific gram-postitive and gram-negative bacteria, including S. aureus, E. coli and Vibrio parahemolyticus. (More details.)

While this discovery won't restore the Bay's once-abundant oyster population, it could help in developing a disease-resistant strain of native American oysters that could eventually bring a modest recovery to the oyster industry. (While non-native oysters are a possibility for recovery, the recovery of the native species should certainly be encouraged.)

And oysters are good for more than just eatin.' They filter and clean the water, which the Bay desperately needs. Plus, their underwater beds provide important shelter for young fish and crabs.


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