March 3, 2010
Evidence Of Increasing Antibiotic Resistance In Soil Microbes
A team of scientists in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are reporting disturbing evidence that soil microbes have become progressively more resistant to antibiotics over the last 60 years. Surprisingly, this trend continues despite apparent more stringent rules on use of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, and improved sewage treatment technology that broadly improves water quality in surrounding environments. Their report appears in ACS' bi-weekly journal Environmental Science and Technology.
David Graham and colleagues note that, although scientists have known for years that resistance was increasing in clinical situations, this is the first study to quantify the same problem in the natural environment over long time-scales. They express concern that increased antibiotic resistance in soils could have broad consequences to public health through potential exposure through water and food supplies. Their results "imply there may be a progressively increasing chance of encountering organisms in nature that are resistant to antimicrobial therapy."
Image Caption: Soil contains microbes that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics, a finding that could have broad consequences to public health. Credit: iStock
On the Net:
- American Chemical Society
- Article: Evidence of Increasing Antibiotic Resistance Gene Abundances in Archived Soils since 1940