Indoor dust carrying bacteria that could be harbouring antibiotic resistance

Indoor dust carrying bacteria that could be harbouring antibiotic resistance

Adolescents with PCOS and obesity have more 'unhealthy' gut bacteria The dust gathered from each location was analyzed to identify the different types of microbes that could have passed through it, by studying the genetic material in the dust. This showed that over 180 antibiotic-resistance genes were present in the dust. However, the researchers also probed the possibility that these genes could be transferred between bacteria. How this occurs is via the structures called integrons, plasmids and transposons. These provide an easy mechanism for DNA bits to travel between microbes. Thus, the scientists looked for such structures in the vicinity of antibiotic-resistant genes. Their search was rewarded by the discovery of over 50 such fragments of DNA. These were now cultured in the laboratory and the scientists attempted to visualize the actual transfer of these ‘jumping genes’. This was by triggering a gene transfer between the bacteria. However, they failed to catch this in action. That is, even though these structures contain the genes of interest, they weren’t able to achieve a gene transfer. Conditions suboptimal for gene transfer However, Hartmann adds, the conditions might not have been optimal for this transfer to happen. Instead, under certain indoor conditions the bacteria floating around might be under stress because of atmospheric dryness, lack of nutrients, too high or too low temperatures, or the presence of antimicrobial chemicals, such as found in cleaning products. Such stress conditions promote gene transfer to nearby microbes which could be better able to survive such conditions. The only problem is that this transfer hasn’t yet been seen directly by any researcher. Implications The new study indicates the possibility of such transfers occurring in all kinds of indoor situations. The question now is whether such events truly pose a threat by providing a significant source of antibiotic resistant microbes, or they are just exchanges occurring between nonpathogenic bacteria. In support of the second option, Hartmann points out, “We are surrounded everywhere we go by microbes, and the vast majority of those microbes are not harmful.” The next step is to do more research into how, where and when antibiotic-resistance genes are transferred to disease-causing bacteria, particularly when the environment is one exposed to common cleaning solutions, to determine if this triggers the transfer of antibiotic resistance. Summing up, she questions: “If you were going to change something about the way you clean, the products you use, what could we do to limit antibiotic resistance?” For instance, it might well be that using a different type of disinfectant or household cleaner could prevent such gene transfers and the spread of antibiotic resistance. Journal reference: Mobilizable antibiotic resistance genes are present in dust microbial communities Ben Maamar S, Glawe AJ, Brown TK, Hellgeth N, Hu J, et al. (2020) Mobilizable antibiotic resistance genes are present in dust microbial communities. PLOS Pathogens 16(1): e1008211. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008211



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