Bacteria “hyper-resistant” to antibiotics discovered in Antarctica

According to recent research, bacteria discovered in Antarctica have genes that are resistant to multiple.


It antibiotics and other antimicrobial substances that can easily be transferred to other microorganisms.

A group of researchers from the state University of Chile recently discovered “hyper-resistant” bacteria in Antarctica that could pose a risk to global health, the study center warned on Wednesday.

The finding, which was published in the prestigious journal Science of the Total Environment, is “of special relevance in the context of climate change, the melting of the poles and the antibiotic resistance crisis,” the university explained.

The discovered bacteria have genes that are resistant to multiple antibiotics and other antimicrobial substances, such as copper, chlorine or the well-known quaternary ammonium, and that can easily be transferred to other microorganisms, such as pathogenic bacteria (disease-causing bacteria), according to the research.

“The idea that these genes could eventually reach bacteria that cause infections in humans or other animals, giving them greater resistance capacities, does not seem unreasonable,” said Andrés Marcoleta, leader of the research.

These bacteria and their genes, moreover, “are not associated with contamination or human intervention, but are part of the microbial communities typical of these Antarctic soils,” added the expert.

“Ancient Genes”

Among these bacteria are Pseudomonas, which have high resistance to extreme conditions and toxic substances and some of them cause serious diseases such as cystic fibrosis, or Polaromonas, which have been previously reported in urbanized polar environments, such as the Siberian subway.

“This reaffirms that contact between bacteria typical of polar environments and pathogenic bacteria is already occurring, which could lead to the exchange of genetic information between them,” Marcoleta warned.

The research also reveals that climate change can, in some way, have an impact on the occurrence of infectious diseases, since the melting exposes microorganisms or genetic information that remained frozen or buried for millions of years to greater contact with humans, animals and other agencies, the university said.

“Now we know that a great diversity of bacteria lives in the soils of the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the polar areas most impacted by melting, and that some of them constitute a potential source of ancestral genes that confer resistance to antibiotics,” he added. the expert.

The discovery, therefore, would allow the scientific world “to anticipate the emergence of possible new resistance mechanisms in infectious diseases and guide the design of new antibiotics,” the study center concluded. 

(With information from EFE)


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