Superbug genes that were first detected in New Delhi over ten years ago have now spread to the Arctic – one of the last 'pristine' places on the Earth, scientists say. Antibiotic-Resistant Genes (ARGs) provide multidrug resistance (MDR) in microorganisms. An example is NDM-1, which is a protein that can confer resistance in a range of bacteria.
NDM-1 was first identified in New Delhi and coded by the resistant gene blaNDM-1. Strains that carry blaNDM-1 were first found in clinical settings in 2008, but by 2010 blaNDM-1 was found in surface waters in Delhi.
Analysing the extracted DNA from forty soil cores at eight locations along the Kongsfjorden region of Svalbard, a total of 131 ARGs were detected, according to the study published in the journal Environmental International.
Carried in the gut of animals and people, blaNDM-1 and other medically-important ARGs were found in Arctic soils that were likely spread in the faecal matter of birds, other wildlife and human visitors to the area.
"What humans have done through excess use of antibiotics on global scales is accelerate the rate of evolution, creating a new world of resistant strains that never existed before," explained Graham in a paper published in the academic journal Environmental International.
The research was carried out by an international team of experts from the Universities of Newcastle, York and Kansas and the Chinese Academy of Science in Xiamen."This finding has huge implications for global AR spread," warned Graham. "A clinically important ARG originating from South Asia is clearly not 'local' to the Arctic."The only way we are going to win this fight is to understand all pathways that lead to antibiotic resistance," added Graham.
(With Agency Inputs)