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ASU scientists discover gut bacteria in bees spread antibiotic-resistant genes to each other

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It’s the kind of thing you might lose sleep over.

How will humans survive serious infections in the future if we’re running out of tools today to fight them? Antibiotic resistance among disease-causing bacteria is of global concern, as some last-resort drugs can no longer cure common illnesses such as urinary tract infections. 

It’s the kind of thing you might lose sleep over.

How will humans survive serious infections in the future if we’re running out of tools today to fight them? Antibiotic resistance among disease-causing bacteria is of global concern, as some last-resort drugs can no longer cure common illnesses such as urinary tract infections. 

To make matters worse, researchers from Arizona State University and Norwegian University of Life Sciences have discovered that our very own gut bacteria may be perpetuating the resistance. Scientists uncovered this startling finding while investigating the microbial life in honey bee guts. 

“To our surprise, we found that instead of one gut bacterium acquiring resistance and outcompeting all the other gut bacteria in honey bees, the resistance genes spread in the bacterial community so that all strains of bacteria survived,” said Gro Amdam, a professor with ASU School of Life Sciences and co-author of the paper.

Read more at Arizona State University

Photo: Different gut bacteria in honey bees spread antibiotic-resistant genes to each other.

Photo by Christofer Bang / Arizona State University