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Around the world, antibiotic use and resistance is increasing while the discovery of new antibiotics has nearly halted.
In new research conducted by Michigan State University and published in the current issue of the journal mBio, this troubling trend is exacerbated by concentrated animal feeding operations. Results from the study show that in large swine farms where antibiotics are used continuously in feed for growth promotion and disease prevention, multidrug-resistant bacteria are likely the norm rather than the exception.
The research team, led by James Tiedje, MSU Distinguished Professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and of plant, soil and microbial sciences, studied large-scale swine farms in China and one population of pigs in the U.S. They confirmed the presence of many partner genes — resistance genes and mobile genetic elements found together. Simply put, when one gene increased or decreased in abundance, partner genes increased or decreased in nearly identical fashion.
“In the fight against the rise of antibiotic resistance, we need to understand that the use of one antibiotic or, in some cases, antibacterial disinfectants may increase the abundance of multidrug resistant bacteria,” he said. “Tracking the source of antibiotic resistance is quite complicated because antibiotic use, which increases the occurrence of resistance, is widespread, and antibiotic resistance can spread between bacteria.”
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