Wildlife and antibiotic resistance

The abuse of antibiotics, over time, causes their ineffectiveness, as microorganisms are able to develop resistance against an antibiotic that is taken too frequently

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Wildlife and antibiotic resistance

Wildlife and antibiotic resistance is a recent and interesting study published on the Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology. And regarding this interaction, the researchers told us: "Antibiotic resistance is a major human health problem.

While health care facilities are main contributors to the emergence, evolution and spread of antibiotic resistance, other ecosystems are involved in such dissemination. astewater, farm animals and pets have been considered important contributors to the development of antibiotic resistance.

Herein, we review the impact of wildlife in such problem. Current evidence supports that the presence of antibiotic resistance genes and/or antibiotic resistant bacteria in wild animals is a sign of anthropic pollution more than of selection of resistance.

However, once antibiotic resistance is present in the wild, wildlife can contribute to its transmission across different ecosystems. Further, the finding that antibiotic resistance genes, currently causing problems at hospitals, might spread through horizontal gene transfer among the bacteria present in the microbiomes of ubiquitous animals as cockroaches, fleas or rats, supports the possibility that these organisms might be bioreactors for the horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes among human pathogens.

The contribution of wildlife in the spread of antibiotic resistance among different hosts and ecosystems occurs at two levels. Firstly, in the case of non-migrating animals, the transfer will take place locally; a One Health problem.

Paradigmatic examples are the above mentioned animals that cohabit with humans and can be reservoirs and vehicles for antibiotic resistance dissemination. Secondly, migrating animals, such as gulls, fishes or turtles may participate in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance across different geographic areas, even between different continents, which constitutes a Global Health issue." The abuse of antibiotics, over time, causes their ineffectiveness, as microorganisms are able to develop resistance against an antibiotic that is taken too frequently.

Antibiotic resistance makes the microorganism immune to the antibiotic, canceling its effects. This resistance is the result of a mutation at the genetic level, which can be of two types. Chromosomal, a mutation that occurs at the level of the bacterial chromosome.

Extrachromosomal or plasmid, or when the mutation occurs at the level of the extrachromosomal DNA, and, more precisely, at the level of the R plasmids.