Antarctica Research Sampling for Drug Discovery

Antarctica Research Sampling for Drug Discovery

Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2024

In January 2024, Dr. Federica Montesanto, a post-doc in the Loesgen Lab, participated in a two-week Antarctic expedition organized by INACH, the Antarctic Chilean Institute, through a collaboration led by her PI, Prof. Sandra Loesgen, and Jaime Cabrera Pardo from the University of Utah and Concepción, Chile.

From Punta Arenas, the southernmost point of Chile, she travelled to the Chilean territory of Antarctica, focusing their research around the South Shetland Islands aboard the research vessel Betanzos. Her mission aboard was to collect environmental samples from various substrates such as sediments, water, and algae. The objective was twofold: to isolate bacteria and fungi potentially useful in drug discovery and to characterize the microbiomes of marine organisms and inorganic substrates found in these remote locations. 

The fieldwork covered diverse terrains, from glaciers and intertidal zones to the volcanically active Deception Island, rich in whaling history. Despite occasional rough seas, the varied expertise within the team—including palaeontologists, ROV pilots, divers, and chemists ensured there was never a dull moment! Now, with the samples back in the Loesgen lab, they're beginning their analysis, eager to explore the potential discoveries hidden within the unique ecosystems of Antarctica.


Scientists in lab

Agar plates with samples in lab

Scientist in lab holding agar plate sample