Bacteria from Mt. Mayon soils may have antibiotic, anticancer properties

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 4) — Researchers from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños have found that bacteria from the soils of Mt. Mayon in Albay may have health benefits, the Department of Science and Technology said.

The bacterial species identified as Streptomyces sp. A1-08 could have potential antibiotic and anti-colorectal cancer effects, the DOST said Tuesday.

Researchers are confirming if this is a new species.

“We have high hopes of getting new and novel species because this is a less explored environment, a volcano." Kristel Mae P. Oliveros, the project leader and an assistant professor in UPLB Microbiology Division, said in a statement.

The research team initially tested 30 bacterial species from Mt. Mayon’s soils, of which 13 have shown varying antibiotic properties against organisms that cause disease in humans and plants, the department said.

"But Streptomyces sp. A1-08 stood out because it has shown antagonistic effects on all test microorganisms and the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA," it said.

"Abundant in hospitals, MRSA is strongly resistant [to] antibiotics which makes treatment of infections more difficult. In fact, the WHO has declared antimicrobial resistance as one of the top 10 global threats to public health," it added.

The antibiotic resistance to MRSA prompted the research team to find out if Streptomyces sp. A1-08 will demonstrate anti-colorectal cancer activity.

The test suggested low potency when compared to doxorubicin, a chemotherapy drug.

“It is good to remember that the positive control doxorubicin is a pure, proven, and tested commercially available chemotherapy drug. In contrast, the ethyl acetate extract of [Streptomyces sp.] A1-08 which we have used in the study, [is] a crude extract, and therefore still a complex mixture and may contain [a] multitude of raw compounds at different concentrations,” Oliveros explained.

The raw compounds can be purified further to develop an anticancer drug, the DOST said.

Oliveros believed they hit a “jackpot” through their discovery but pointed out their findings must lead to more research.

“Way forward, further studies should be made for us to establish that this novel species can likewise produce novel bioactive compounds,” she said.

This paper was recently accepted in the Philippine Journal of Science, DOST's peer-reviewed publication. It will soon be available at the journal's website (, the DOST said.

Other researchers who contributed to the UPLB-funded study are Drs. Albert Remus Rosana, Rina B. Opulencia, Asuncion K. Raymundo, the late Dr. Teofila Zulaybar, as well as Andrew Montecillo and Arian J. Jacildo.