Antibiotic resistance linked to soil pollution


ISLAMABAD, APRIL 14 (online): New research has identified an association between heavy metal and radioactive soil pollution and the antibacterial resistance of bacteria living in that soil.
The research adds weight to earlier findings. Indeed, previous research suggests that because bacteria adapt to heavy metal and radioactive pollution, they also develop antibacterial properties.
Antibiotic resistance is a major global health crisis. The World Health Organization (WHO) describe it as “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.”
Humans depend on antibiotics to fight bacterial infections. They are crucial for modern medicine and have saved countless lives. Common infections and injuries can be fatal without antibiotics.
Humans also use antibiotics for agriculture. For instance, farmers routinely give antibiotics to animals to maximize yield.
However, bacteria are able to develop resistance to antibiotics, rendering particular antibiotics less effective or completely useless.
Alongside the indiscriminate and inappropriate use of antibiotics, there is also evidence to suggest that certain pollutants can inculcate antibacterial resistance.
“The overuse of antibiotics in the environment adds additional selection pressure on microorganisms that accelerates their ability to resist multiple classes of antibiotics. But antibiotics aren’t the only source of selection pressure.”
He adds, “Many bacteria possess genes that simultaneously work on multiple compounds that would be toxic to the cell, and this includes metals.”
Bacteria occur in abundance in healthy soil. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there can be up to 1 billion bacteria in a teaspoon of soil. This equates to up to a ton of bacteria per acre of soil.