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What if mackerel could fight superbugs?



This was one of the “big questions of Irish science” posed by Science Foundation Ireland as part of their #sciencerising PR campaign associated with Science Week 2016.  Mackerel is the source of formicin, a new antimicrobial recently identified by APC scientists. The details, published in the Journal of Microbiology (, reveal that formicin is a bacteriocin produced by Bacillus paralichenformis APC1576, which was isolated from the intestines of mackerel.

PhD student Fergus Collins found that formicin can kill a wide range of harmful bacteria, including the Gram positive pathogens Staphyloccous aureus, Clostridium difficile, Listeria monocytogenes and Steptococcus mutans. It is a member of a subclass of bacteriocins called lantibiotics and is unique due to differences in amino acid charge and composition. APC has plans to develop the formicin research further as it may have important applications for human and animal health. The research forms part of a wider programme on bacteriocins, led by Paul Ross and Colin Hill at APC.

Press release


PHOTO (left to right) Dr Orla O’Sullivan, Paula O’Connor, Fergus Collins  and Dr Mary Rea, APC Microbiome Institute and Teagasc Food Research Centre Moorepark.