Reviews highlight link between antibiotic resistance and environment

Posted on 22nd July 2013

Three new papers, co-authored by microbiologist Dr William Gaze, have emphasised the importance of the natural environment in the development of antibiotic resistance.

The reviews highlight that the evolution of antibiotic resistance is a natural process, and draw attention to the fact that many of the genes responsible for its development in human pathogens originate in bacteria found in the environment.

Aiming to introduce key concepts to a wider audience, the publications follow a recent expert workshop sponsored by the Canadian Society of Microbiologists. As part of the conference, international specialists discussed the rising spectre of antimicrobial resistance.

Dr Gaze and his colleagues stressed the importance of understanding the origins and evolution of resistant genes, as well as how these traits are transferred:

“Antibiotic resistance is often the endpoint of an evolutionary process that began billions of years ago. We’ve only recently been able to link the environment to resistance seen in the clinic and improving our understanding of these connections is crucial to slowing the advance of pathogens immune to modern antibiotics.”

Links to the studies can be found below:

Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) for Environmental Development and Transfer of Antibiotic Resistance

Influence of Humans on Evolution and Mobilization of Environmental Antibiotic Resistome

The Scourge of Antibiotic Resistance: The Important Role of the Environment

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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