Ancient bacteria resisted antibiotics they’d never met – jumping genes implicated
|September 5, 2011||Posted by News under Ecology, News, horizontal gene transfer|
Emily Chung reports,
The same genes that make disease-causing bacteria resistant to today’s antibiotics have been found in soil bacteria that have remained frozen since woolly mammoths roamed the Earth.
“We’ve shown for the first time that drug resistance is a really old phenomenon and it’s part of the natural ecology of the planet,” said Gerard Wright, a biochemist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.
Five years ago, Wright had discovered harmless soil bacteria, Actinobacteria, that showed resistance to antibiotics (not, presumably, directed at them).
He then sought bacteria that had never been exposed to human efforts against microbes.
Geologist Duane Forese suggested taking soil samples from under a layer of volcanic ash deposited in the Yukon (far north) 30,000 years ago. They found Actinobacteria, that showed the same resistance.
Wright points out that these Actinobacteria are our usual source of the antibiotics:
“They make probably 80 per cent of the drugs that are currently used today – they also make anti-cancer agents, they make immune suppressants, they are remarkable, remarkable little chemists.”
Indeed? Well, someone is, anyway.
Actinobacteria seem to have needed, from time to time, to fend off the unfriendly advances of other bacteria. But how did their talent travel?
That antibiotic resistance likely jumped from the soil bacteria to disease-causing bacteria.
You mean, it was due to jumping genes, not Darwinian evolution?
Remember when failure to believe that Darwinian evolution is the cause of antibiotic resistence was supposed to endanger the nation’s health? Quaint.
See also: A message from so-called Denyse O’Leary
Horizontal Gene Transfer and the Evolution of Evolution: You Can’t Make This Up
HGT unseating Darwin
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