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Pollution linked to antibiotic resistance

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Tim’s Branch, a stream with elevated nickel and uranium levels. Credit: Photo by David Scott Antibiotic resistance is an increasing health problem, but new research suggests it is not only caused by the overuse of antibiotics. It’s also caused by pollution.

Using a process known as genomic analysis , University of Georgia scientists found a strong correlation between antibiotic resistance and heavy metal contamination in an environment.

Jesse C. Thomas IV, an alumnus of the College of Public Health and the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, found commonalities in soils contaminated with heavy metals on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina.

According to the study, published in the July issue of the journal Microbial Biotechnology , soils with heavy metals had a higher level of specific bacterial hosts that were accompanied by antibiotic-resistant genes .

Hosts included Acidobacteriaoceae, Bradyrhizobium and Streptomyces. The bacteria had antibiotic-resistant genes, known as ARGs, for vancomycin, bacitracin and polymyxin. All three drugs are used to treat infections in humans.

The bacteria also had an ARG for multidrug resistance , a strong defense gene that can resist heavy metals as well as antibiotics , according to Thomas, who was conducting his doctoral research at the […]

read more here —> phys.org

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