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Queenslanders to get their hands dirty to save lives

Queenslanders are being asked to ‘dig deep’ in an Australian-first project, with the next ‘ground-breaking’ medicine potentially hiding in their backyard.

Soils for Science is a citizen science project that aims to unearth new antibiotics in backyards, gardens and farms across the state, spearheaded by The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB).

Soils for Science Project Manager Dr Zeinab Khalil said society urgently needs new antibiotics to treat an alarming surge in drug-resistant bacterial and fungal infections.

“Without safe and effective antibiotics, modern medicine is at risk of being set back over 100 years to a time when even a simple scratch could kill you if it became infected,” Dr Khalil said.

“Antibiotics make possible many medical procedures we take for granted – caesarean sections, hip replacements, and the treatment of seemingly simple ear, eye, nose and throat infections.

“Over the years, nature has given us many valuable medicines, including most of the antibiotics we use today – but with these antibiotics becoming increasingly resistant to even last-resort treatments, we urgently need new leads.

“The extraordinary diversity of the Queensland natural landscape, from tropics to deserts, encompasses an enormous untapped potential for new antibiotics and other medicines.

“The next cure could start with you.”

Children Filling Soil Sample Bag

Soils for Science seeks to enlist Queenslanders to collect 100,000 soil samples from across the state, and from 23 March, Queenslanders can order free soil sampling kits with pre-paid return postage from the Soils for Science website.

IMB scientists will process these soil samples to harvest and study the incredible diversity of microbes, including bacteria and fungi, hidden within and search for the next antibiotic.

All Queenslanders can visit the online Soils for Science image gallery to view close-up images of these microbes, and citizen scientists who return kits will receive a link to high-resolution images of their samples.

It’s a race against the clock, but Soils for Science will bring together the public and scientists, to solve a common problem – to deliver new and improved antibiotics to safeguard future generations.



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By Angela Sutherland
After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music. Angela is the editor of Kids on the Coast - a free family magazine whats on guide for Kids: things to do, school holiday fun and free activities for kids... Fun attractions, family food & travel, kids health & wellbeing, kids parties venues, parenting, pregnancy & babies, guide for parents. Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids things to do with kids, schools and education and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

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