Researchers at University of Idaho say they have been able to track bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics – something that’s a new development in combating antibiotic resistance.
The scientists partnered with Seattle-based biotech company Phase Genomics to sift through the DNA of thousands of bacteria from local wastewater. They then homed in on which of them were resistant to antibiotics.
Then, U of I Professor Eva Top says some were resistant and some weren’t but when, “The cells randomly run into each other and when they stick together for long enough, they can actually transfer a copy of that antibiotic resistance plasmid to another bacterium.”
Top says she’ll spend the next few years in her lab figuring out whether antibiotic-resistant bacteria could be spread from soil into crops or groundwater.
“If we understand what are the real players and the culprits, maybe we can focus on slowing that down,” she says.
Antibiotic resistance is a global problem. A study commissioned by the British government found 10 million people could die every year by 2050 if a fix isn’t found.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.