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Ancient bacteria resisted antibiotics they’d never met – jumping genes implicated

In “Antibiotic resistance found in ancient bacteria” (CBC News, Aug 31, 2011), Emily Chung reports, The same genes that make disease-causing bacteria resistant to today’s antibiotics have been found in soil bacteria that have remained frozen since woolly mammoths roamed the Earth. “We’ve shown for the first time that drug resistance is a really old phenomenon and it’s part of the natural ecology of the planet,” said Gerard Wright, a biochemist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. Five years ago, Wright had discovered harmless soil bacteria, Actinobacteria, that showed resistance to antibiotics (not, presumably, directed at them). He then sought bacteria that had never been exposed to human efforts against microbes. Geologist Duane Forese suggested taking soil samples from under Read More ›