Bacteria capable of producing antibiotics are found in the fur of sloths, according to research carried out by the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the National Center for High Technology (Cenat).
“These bacteria are beneficial to the health of the sloth and are responsible for keeping pathogenic organisms under control that could harm these endemic mammals of the humid forests of Central and South America,” said Max Chavarría Vargas, a researcher at the UCR and expert in biotechnology. Furthermore, these results suggest that this ecosystem could be a source of molecules of biotechnological or pharmaceutical interest.
Can be used for human health
“This means that it is an environment where it is ‘worthwhile’ to study the diversity of molecules in greater depth in future research, since they could be beneficial to human beings,” added Chavarría. In this sense, researchers will now have to study antibiotics and assess whether they are new, whether they are broad-spectrum and whether they can be used for human health.
This study was published in an international journal Environmental Microbiology, a scientific publication belonging to the Society for Applied Microbiology. Finally, the research was developed in collaboration with the naturalist Judith Arroyo, who is the owner of the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica, located in Cahuita, Limón.