Researchers including one of Indian origin from North Carolina State University in US have found that antibiotic resistance can be passed between bacteria found in the soil. They also have found that spreading manure on ground as fertiliser can also spread antibiotic resistance to bacteria in the soil.
Reasons for spread of antibiotic resistance through soil
Bacteria contain small DNA molecules known as plasmids. These plasmids are separate from bacterias actual DNA and can pick up and exchange genes between bacteria. Thus, these plasmids in bacterias are responsible for antibiotic resistance in soil also.
What researchers found?
The researcher’s observation was based on soil samples taken from swine farm prior to and for three weeks after spreading of manure. They tested manure for antibiotic resistant strains of salmonella, a pathogen responsible for causing highest number of bacterial food borne illnesses in US every year. After sampling soil, researchers found that antibiotic-resistant salmonella bacteria were still present in manure up to 21 days after it had been spread. They discovered that particular plasmid associated with antibiotic-resistant salmonella from manure which weighed around 95 kilo-base (kb), was turning up in different salmonella serotypes from soil samples and every serotype with plasmid 95 kb was now resistant to antibiotics.
Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to use of these medicines. Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process. Poor infection prevention and control further accelerate it.