Antibiotic-resistant bacteria discovered in Antarctica

(ORDO NEWS) — The researchers found that Pseudomonas bacteria, one of the predominant bacterial groups in the Antarctic Peninsula, are not pathogenic but may be the source of “resistance genes”. A related study has been published in Science of the Total Environment.

Bacteria have been found in Antarctica that have genes that give them natural resistance to antibiotics and antimicrobials and have the potential to spread from polar regions, scientists in Chile say.

Andres Marcoleta, a University of Chile researcher who led the study, said these “superpowers” that evolved to withstand extreme conditions are contained in mobile DNA fragments that are easily carried by other bacteria.

“We know that the soils of the Antarctic Peninsula, which have been hit hardest by ice melt, contain a wide variety of bacteria,” Markoleta said.

“Some of them represent a potential source of genes that confer antibiotic resistance.”

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

“Researchers should now be asking whether climate change could affect the emergence of infectious diseases,” Marcoleta said.

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

The researchers found that Pseudomonas bacteria are not pathogenic, but may be the source of “resistance genes” that are not stopped by conventional disinfectants.

However, another species of bacteria they studied, Polaromonas bacteria, has “the potential to inactivate beta-lactam-type antibiotics that are needed to treat various infections,” Marcoleta said.

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