Mining-polluted water a potential source of antibiotics – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – July 16, 2018)

University research reveals links between algae and health benefits

Research from Laurentian University in Sudbury is showing that waterbodies located within five kilometres of abandoned Northern Ontario mine sites could be a potential new source of antibiotics.

Led by Dr. J.A. Scott, a professor of bioengineering at the Bharti School of Engineering, the research was published in a recent issue of Phycologia, a journal that features work related to the scientific study of algae, or phycology.

Through his earlier work, Scott had studied microalgae to determine if they could be used to produce biofuel. But because of their beneficial attributes, he speculated the algae could also be used to produce health products, particularly antibiotics.

In the North, where there is an abundance of waterbodies impacted by decades of mining, he wondered if those stressed environments could produce algae with antibiotic properties.

“It’s like anything: our body only produces these extra things if we’re stressed, and algae are no different,” Scott said. “And because they’re living in a stressed environment, would antibiotics be possibly one of them?”

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