Indiscriminate use of antimicrobials has resulted in the emergence of antimicrobial resistance that continues to rise on a global scale. This not only affects the environment, humans, or animals but also food systems. Hence, for food preservation, the use of natural antimicrobials has been favoured over synthetic ones due to concerns over ill effects of these chemicals and customer acceptance. As a consequence, researchers have explored numerous different natural resources to search for antimicrobial agents, including bacteria. Many studies have investigated the potential of various bacteria to produce antimicrobials, however, most of these studies have been focussed on aerobes and facultative anaerobes. The use of strict anaerobes such as Clostridium spp. as a potential antimicrobial compound producer has been largely neglected, in part because pathogenic Clostridium species have received the most attention owing to their detrimental effects on humans, animals, and food systems. Most of the Clostridium spp. are in fact saprophytes and not involved in a disease process. As Clostridium spp. can thrive in extreme environments with their adaptive metabolic mechanisms to the harsh conditions, synthesis of bioactive molecules may play an important role in their survival. Their potential to synthesize small bioactive molecules should therefore be of great interest to look for novel antimicrobial compounds. In recent years, genomic studies have indicated the potential of strict anaerobes to be antimicrobial producers. Genome mining studies showed the presence of biosynthetic gene clusters in anaerobic bacteria responsible for the production of putative bioactive molecules. This further stimulated the investigation of Clostridium spp. for their antimicrobial production. A limited number of antimicrobials have been identified and characterised so far, from the genus Clostridium, indicating the importance of more research in identifying and characterising novel antimicrobial compounds from Clostridium species. In this talk, we will discuss the current knowledge of Clostridial antimicrobial compounds as well as opportunities and challenges in the production and identification of antimicrobials from Clostridium spp. using culture and non-culture-based approaches.
Dr. Tanushree Gupta is a Research Scientist in AgResearch Ltd, New Zealand. She has an extensive experience in dairy, meat microbiology, bacterial genetics as well as exploring natural resources for novel antimicrobial compounds. Her area of expertise is not only limited to these but also include biofilm studies, quorum sensing as well as novel processing technologies for product development. She leads a team of PhD students who work on sheep dairy, novel antimicrobial compounds as well as to decontaminate food matrices using hurdle technologies.