Bacteria With Natural Antibiotic, Antimicrobial Resistance Discovered in Antarctica

Bacteria in Antarctica have been discovered with genes that give them natural resistance to antibiotics and antimicrobials and have the ability to spread beyond polar regions, according to scientists in Chile.

These “superpowers” that have evolved to withstand extreme conditions are in portable DNA fragments that can easily be transferred to another, Andres Marcoleta, a researcher from the University of Chile who led the study, said in the journal Science of the Total Environment in March. bacteria.

“We know that the soils of the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the polar regions most affected by melting ice, host a high diversity of bacteria,” Marcoleta said. “And that some of them constitute a potential source of ancestral genes that confer antibiotic resistance.”

Scientists from the University of Chile collected several samples from the Antarctic Peninsula from 2017 to 2019.

“It is worth asking whether climate change can have an effect on the incidence of infectious diseases,” Marcoleta said.

“In a possible scenario, these genes could leave this reservoir and promote the emergence and spread of infectious diseases.”

The researchers found that Pseudomonas, one of the groups of bacteria prevalent in the Antarctic Peninsula, is not pathogenic but can be a source of “resistance genes”, which are not stopped by common disinfectants such as copper, chlorine or quaternary ammonium.

However, the other type of bacteria they looked for, Polaromonas, had “the ability to inactivate beta-lactam antibiotics, which are essential for treating various infections,” Markoletta said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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