Soil Bacteria Thrive on Antibiotics: A Potential Reservoir of Antibiotic-Resistance


Soil bacteria have thumbed their ‘nose’ at antibiotics this week. A surprising study in the journal Science shows that soil bacteria can thrive on antibiotics alone. The bacteria apparently have no problem using our most trusted weapons against them as food. What is worse, these close relatives to human pathogens might serve as a reservoir of resistance to the bacteria that plague humanity.

We are in an expensive arms race with bacteria. Developing new antibiotics that rapidly become useless, only to develop more. But the race with bacteria costs more than just money, it is a life and death situation, and one we are rapidly loosing. Antibiotics, from soap to feedlots are showing up in our water and soil, causing unknown environmental and human health issues in the process. It’s time to stop thinking of our relationship with bacteria as a war, and look for a different approach.The primary problem is that we keep trying to kill bacteria. Killing bacteria creates an evolutionary force that drives the bacteria to become resistant. Why are we fighting evolution? Instead of killing bacteria outright in every situation, why not figure out how to be a bit more subtle when possible?

BioSignal is a company that confuses bacteria, instead of killing them. Wine grape extracts have been shown to interfere with the communication between bacteria, preventing them from forming dangerous biofilms. Encouraging ‘good’ bacteria known as probiotics can displace and keep the dangerous bacteria at bay. We have the tools we need to be more tactful and sustainable at handling dangerous bacteria.

Now that we know soil bacteria consider our antibiotics as food:
"Don't Feed The Bacteria"

Creative image credit of 'bacteria' photo goes to denn.

:: Science

Tags: Agriculture | Antibiotics | Bacteria


treehugger slideshows