Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

“Jumping genes” threaten the world’s antibiotics


mcr-9 gene’s protein structure/
Ahmed Gaballa, Cornell University

From ScienceDaily:

While sifting through the bacterial genome of salmonella, Cornell University food scientists discovered mcr-9, a new stealthy, jumping gene so diabolical and robust that it resists one of the world’s few last-resort antibiotics.

Doctors deploy the antibiotic colistin when all other infection-fighting options are exhausted. But resistance to colistin has emerged around the globe, threatening its efficacy…

Mcr-9 is the latest in this new series of “mobilized colistin-resistance” genes — originally discovered in 2015. The National Center for Biotechnology Information, part of the National Institutes of Health, has added details about this new gene to its database. Medical professionals and others can now use this information to identify mcr-9 in bacteria isolated from food products and people…

“If you go to a hospital and this gene is floating around, that can be trouble. The gene is moveable. It jumps,” Wiedmann said. “In a hospital setting, being able to screen a patient for resistance allows doctors and nurses to isolate the patient and maintain biosecurity.” Paper. (open access) – Laura M. Carroll, Ahmed Gaballa, Claudia Guldimann, Genevieve Sullivan, Lory O. Henderson, Martin Wiedmann. Identification of Novel Mobilized Colistin Resistance Gene mcr-9 in a Multidrug-Resistant, Colistin-Susceptible Salmonella enterica Serotype Typhimurium Isolate. mBio, 2019; 10 (3) DOI: 10.1128/mBio.00853-19 More.

Although they are using the term “jumping genes,” it sounds more like horizontal gene transfer, but we won’t quibble. Maybe the term “jumping gene” (which used to mean moving around within a single genome) will come to mean moving between organisms (horizontal gene transfer) as well.

Popular media are getting the picture about the risk:

We’ll give you the bad news first: mcr-9 is highly mobile, per the study. Bacteria can swap genetic information into their DNA, and the readiness with which mcr-9 is transferable means that this antibiotic resistance could rapidly proliferate, rendering existing treatments all-but-useless.Dan Robitzski, “Sneaky bacteria can swap genes, making them immune to antibiotics” at Futurism

Does anyone remember when antibiotic resistance was proof of Darwinism? Antibiotic resistance was Evolution. And Evolution was not non-Darwinian stuff like horizontal gene transfer/jumping genes. Welcome to post-Darwin science.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

See also: Horizontal gene transfer: Sorry, Darwin, it’s not your evolution any more

Follow UD News at Twitter!

PA, I fear, it looks frighteningly like a pre-antibiotic world. KF kairosfocus
KF @2: That’s a very important question. But I have no idea how to answer it though. Thanks. PeterA
ET, I think your timely correcting comment is right. HGT and “jumping genes” seem to belong to different categories of concepts. HGT seems to be a way to transfer genetic information between cells. Jumping genes or transposons seems to be names for genetic information that can be transferred between cells or just change positions within the DNA. Did I get this right? Thanks. PeterA
Brother Brian:
It is my understanding that “jumping gene” is just a colloquialism and refers to HGT.
Jumping genes are a name for transposons ET
Although they are using the term “jumping genes,” it sounds more like horizontal gene transfer, but we won’t quibble.
It is my understanding that "jumping gene" is just a colloquialism and refers to HGT. Sadly, epidemics are an inevitable by-product of increased human density. Good hygiene practices and the proper use (not indiscriminate use) of antibiotics can delay them, or slow their progress, but they will not completely prevent them. And it is made even worse by the increase use of air travel. Says the guy who is hopping on a plane to Japan in a couple weeks. Brother Brian
What does a post-antibiotic world look like? kairosfocus
Antibiotic resistance was NEVER proof of Darwinism. 1. As we all know, both antibiotics and antibiotic resistance are part of the BUILT IN biologic arsenal - see Lederberg experiment 2. Antibiotic resistant bacteria is, and will always be, of THE SAME species as the original 3. Antibiotic resistance REVERSES instead of spreading once the antibiotic stimulus is removed (hence the valid advice to cut down on antibiotics). Antibiotic resistance is not an absolute "beneficial mutation". http://nonlin.org/a-cinematic-approach-to-drug-resistance-stunning-videos-of-evolution-in-action/ http://nonlin.org/missing-evidence/ Nonlin.org

Leave a Reply