Producing New Antibiotics Through Robotics | 22 Jul 2019

Researchers have produced a new class of antibiotics, known as class II Polyketides, by using robotics to engineer Escherichia coli (E. coli), a common gut bacterium.

  • These antibiotics are also naturally produced by soil bacteria and have antimicrobial properties which are vital in the modern pharmaceutical industry to combat infectious diseases and cancer.
  • The naturally produced Escherichia coli bacteria are difficult to work with as they grow in dense clumps that are incompatible with the automated robotic systems used for modern biotechnology research.
  • By transferring the production machinery from the soil bacteria into E. coli, the researchers have made this class of antibiotics accessible for much more rapid exploration.
  • This breakthrough could be vital for the ongoing combat against antimicrobial resistance, as recently developed automated robotics systems can now be used to create new antibiotics in a fast and efficient way.
  • It will now be possible to explore and engineer polyketides using robotic systems to develop new and diversified polyketides in an automated, rapid and versatile fashion.


  • Antibiotics are chemical substances, which are produced by some microbes and can kill or retard the growth of other (disease-causing) microbes.
  • Penicillin was the first antibiotic to be discovered. This antibiotic was extensively used to treat American soldiers wounded in World War II.

Source: TOI