Soil bacteria eat antibiotics for breakfast – literally

ResearchBlogging.orgNever mind plain old antibiotic resistance – some soil bacteria can actually EAT antibiotics. In this week’s Science, researchers reported that they isolated hundreds of types of bacteria from regular soil and grew them in the lab with antibiotics as their sole food source. Not only did the bacteria survive, but some strains happily munched on common antibiotics like penicillin & ciprofloxacin. NOM NOM NOM indeed.

To make matters more disturbing, eating one type of antibiotic made the bacteria resistant to other, related antibiotics. If a bacteria was able to eat a single antibiotic, it was resistant to all related antibiotics up to ridiculously high concentrations (20 mg/L).

Though none of the soil bacteria tested were actual human pathogens, some strains were closely related to bacteria that do cause disease. Since bacteria are able to share genes with each other in a kind of pseudo-sex called conjugation, it is possible that soil bacteria could transfer their antibiotic-munching skills to their disease-causing cousins. That would be bad. Though pathogenic bacteria probably don’t need to eat antibiotics (since they’ve got all kinds of lovely human bits to dine upon), they would acquire the eaters’ intense antibiotic resistance.

Does this mean that eating food off the floor actually could contribute to antibiotic resistance? All those years of refusing to buy antibacterial soap, and now I am undone by the 10-second rule! Oh cruel world, where the jellybean from inside the couch is always my favorite flavor…

G. Dantas, M. O. A. Sommer, R. D. Oluwasegun, G. M. Church (2008). Bacteria Subsisting on Antibiotics Science, 320 (5872), 100-103 DOI: 10.1126/science.1155157


6 Responses to Soil bacteria eat antibiotics for breakfast – literally

  1. jebyrnes says:

    I think today’s Natalie Dee might have something to say about all of this. lbeit without the antibiotics…

  2. Eric Wolff says:

    *10* second rule? 10? Makes me think of tonight’s dinner in a whole new light.

  3. robertpaul says:

    Miriam Hi
    This is all very interesting and not at all surprising. This subject has long been discussed that our modern world of super clenliness is weakening our natural or innate healing resources.

    After an unfortunate accident with a circular saw a double dose of incompatable anti biotics wrecked my digestive system seemingly for good.

    I’m more concerned with antibiotics and other chemicals in my food than a peck of dirt or soil. I do believe in supporting my internal healing system by letting it work as it is meant to not protecting it and possibly destroying it.

    You may be interested in my weblog on the body healing itself.

  4. sinus infection…

    […]Soil bacteria eat antibiotics for breakfast – literally « The Oyster’s Garter[…]…

  5. Go Here says:

    You’ve incredible thing right.

  6. “I’m just relying on my elementary paper plane experience,” said Bush,
    “I was a pro back then. It was during the band’s American tour that Arulpragasam was introduced to the sequencer Roland MC-505. You have just constructed a very basic paper airplane.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: