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A Medical Treasure in Bahamian Mud

Narrator: This is Science Today. Traditionally, for the last two to three decades, researchers have used microorganisms that grow from the soil to identify molecules that can be used in medicine. But there's an awful lot of mud at the bottom of the ocean, too.

Urdwary: And it just so happens that there are very similar organisms that produce different, but useful molecules that should be usable in medicine, so it's our job to go out and find these organisms and to find the molecules that they make.

Narrator: Daniel Udwary, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, helped sequence the genome of a disease-fighting marine bacteria that is found in the mud off the Bahamas.

Urdwary: Obviously, we can't replicate in the laboratory mud from the Bahamas, so we take it and we put it in a culture broth - the bug still grows, it needs salt water for growth because it's used to living in the ocean. That's the only modification we make, but we grow it in a culture broth and it makes a certain number of molecules that have been isolated.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.