Soils for Science

A new era in the discovery of life-saving medicines

Soils for Science is an Australian-first citizen science program dedicated to finding new antibiotics needed in the fight against the scourge of drug-resistant infections, better known as superbugs.

Superbugs are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics and threaten to cause 10 million deaths per year worldwide by 2050.

In Australia, the death rate from antibiotic-resistant bacteria is higher now than 10 years ago.

But the answer could be hiding in your backyard.

More than half of all antibiotics available worldwide have been developed from microbes found in soil and nature, and Australia is one of the most biodiverse environments in the world, spanning beaches, rainforests, wetlands and deserts. This vast, untapped landscape is ripe for the discovery of microbes that could be developed into new antibiotics, anti-fungals and other medicines.  

Help find the next antibiotic

  1. Request a soil kit
  2. Download the app from the Apple or Android stores
  3. Collect soil samples with your kit
  4. Register your samples in the app
  5. Send the sample back to IMB in the postage-paid bag
  6. Visit the Soils for Science Gallery to view images of soil microbes
  7. Share image of soils microbes with friends and family, and on social media

How do antibiotics fight against superbugs?


Digging up a hidden war

You might be surprised to discover there is a millennia-old battle raging in your backyard.

Microbes, such as bacteria and fungi, are constantly fighting over the territory beneath your feet, employing
an array of sophisticated weapons to gain dominance.

And now you can witness the action!

Soils for Science researchers will test soil samples and, in the process, create amazing, detailed images
of these ancient foes going head-to-head. The images might also show the target of our search - life-saving antibiotics!

View the gallery

Take a virtual tour

Click on 'Nav' then choose 'Soils for Science' to see the lab!

The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi – so-called ‘superbugs’ – has the potential to set medicine back almost 100 years to a pre-penicillin-era if we don’t take drastic action.

Drug-resistant infections could cause up to 10 million deaths globally per year by 2050
More than 300 million people suffer a serious fungal infection each year
25 million of these fungal infections are life-threatening


Up to 2.5 million people die from fungal infection each year
Fungal infections cause blindness in one million people each year
About one million people die from bacterial infection each year

Meet the Researchers


  • Professor Rob Capon
    Group Leader

    "Soils for Science is the only initiative exploring and analysing the state’s microbial bounty on this scale which is going to work to our advantage". Read more >>

  • Dr Zeinab Khalil
    Research fellow

    "Antibiotic resistance is shaping up to be the next major global health crisis and we can’t underestimate how catastrophic our future could be if we don’t discover and develop new, safe and effective antibiotics". Read more >>