Drug-resistant bacteria predate drugs

They get rid of bacteria with antibiotics, but there are some bacteria that antibiotics do not work on. The mechanisms of drug resistance are different, but among the reasons they usually cite the fact that there are so many antibiotics in the modern world; for example, they are used to prevent bacterial infections in animal husbandry, and if you imagine the volume of animal husbandry, it becomes clear how many antibiotics are in the environment. They have become an important factor in natural selection: bacteria cannot neglect them, antibiotic-resistant populations are increasingly appearing in bacterial populations, which means they have an advantage over those who are not resistant.

However, do not forget that antibiotics are natural (or, if you like, natural) molecules: they were not invented by people – they have long been used against each other by various microorganisms. Bacteria and fungi are actively fighting against each other, and antibiotics are one of the most common means of struggle. Of course, people can spy on an antibiotic molecule from some fungus, and then improve it, but the original molecule arose in nature quite a long time ago. And if this is so, then antibiotic resistance should have arisen from time to time in bacteria even in the pre-antibiotic era – that is, before they began to be actively used in medicine.

In this sense, one should not be so surprised by the article in Nature, which talks about an antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus, which was found on hedgehogs and which became antibiotic-resistant about two hundred years ago. Employees University of Cambridge Together with colleagues from research centers in Denmark, Germany and other countries, they took microflora samples from hedgehogs in Europe and New Zealand. It turned out that 60% of hedgehogs in Sweden and Denmark carry one of the varieties of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Yes, and on hedgehogs from other regions of Europe and from New Zealand, MRSA also comes across quite often.

Researchers Believe Fungus Causes Trichophyton erinacei, which also lives on the skin of hedgehogs: the fungus secretes an antibiotic, and Staphylococcus aureus can live next to it only if it is antibiotic-resistant. By comparing the genes for drug resistance in hedgehog bacteria, you can find out when these genes first appeared. The authors of the work came to the conclusion that MRSA has been living on hedgehogs somewhere since the 19th century, when medicine was not even aware of any antibiotics. MRSA was first discovered in humans in 1960, and it is likely that “human” MRSA is MRSA with hedgehogs.

In fact, it is the hedgehog species of MRSA that occurs in about one in every two hundred people with MRSA infection. Hedgehogs are hedgehogs, but the spread of antibiotics plays a big role in the evolution of bacteria – the diversity and widespread distribution of drug-resistant strains, we owe to our own fascination with drugs.

Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by www.nkj.ru.

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