Soil ‘ultra-bugs’ thrive on antibiotics

I was searching through the topics on www. newscientists.com and I came across an unusual topic about soil bugs that not are resistant to antibiotics but actually consume the antibiotics.   live in the soil of gardens, parks, and farms. These bacteria have also been able to survive with just living off the drugs alone. Researchers are now very concerned that they will pass this traits on to their kin. In comparison to humans, this is like us thriving on a diet of snake venom alone.

To confirm that the finding was true, researchers collected more dirt from farms, forests and parks around the northeast United States and Minnesota. All the soil samples contained bacteria that can survive on antibiotics, and many subsisted on multiple drugs. Not only could the soil bacteria live on older antibiotics that many bacteria have developed resistance to, such as penicillin, but they could digest modern-day silver bullets as well, including ciprofloxacin.

Many of the bacteria were found to be impervious to the bulk of antibiotics, although they often could not grow without alternative food sources. “They are resistant to virtually all antibiotics,” says microbiologist Morten Sommer, from Harvard. Among 75 strains the team tested, half were resistant to clinical doses of 17 of 18 antibiotics. This trait is very worrisome to researchers because theses strains are closely related to those of pathogenic strains.

Soil bacteria have been locked in a bio-weapons arms race for billions of years, and have developed the ability to feed on each others naturally occurring antibiotics. If you take these bacteria into the lab and stop them from eating each others weapons, levels of these novel antibiotics should build up, and we may be able to extract them for clinical use.

In environmental science class, we visited a waste plant and found out that a large amount of medicine and antibiotics were being flushed down the toilet via waste. Even though the waste plant kills the pathogens and cleans the water, some of  the waste water else where in the U.S. could eventually end up in waterways and make its way to soil. Thus contaminating the soil with waste containing antibiotics. 

Off the topic of “ultra-bugs,” today humans continually take our Earth for granted and need to realize that some of the  things they are doing are completely irreversible.  In my opinion most humans today have a growing reliance upon technology and can never live a single day without touching an electronic. Many people today think that because humans are so technologically advanced that we can fix any problem with technology. But the truth of the matter is that someday we are going to be caught digging a hole that we can’t come out of, even with technology.

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