Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Found off Antarctic Coast
31.01.2012 - Flora & Fauna, Antarctic
According to a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology that was conducted by Jorge Hernández, Björn Olsen and their colleagues from Uppsala University in Sweden, bacteria that are resistant to nearly all kinds of antibiotics are present in seawater off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The fact that the bacteria can be found in Antarctica is an indication of how extensive the problem of drug-resistant bacteria has become, said Olsen.
A quarter of the Escherichia coli bacteria sampled carried genes that manufacture an enzyme called ESBL, which is capable of destroying penicillin, cephalosporins, and similar antibiotics.
Olsen and his team took samples of seawater between 10 and 300 metres away from three of Chile’s research stations along the Antarctic Peninsula. Concentrations of the kind of ESBL they found called CTX-M – which is common in bacteria in human digestive tracts – were higher closer to the stations’ sewage outfalls.
Recent research indicates that the bacteria may maintain the genes to manufacture CTX-M even after they are no longer exposed to antibiotics, which infers that they may be able to survive in the wild, using animals as hosts. Olsen and his team have been checking animals in the region to see if they act as carriers for the superbugs.