Antibiotic resistance (ABR) has been around for millennia; genes showing ABR have been found in woolly mammoth fossils. It's a natural occurrence, and scientists need to account for this when doing studies on ABR.
Lisa Durso, PhD, will present "Challenges and Opportunities for Reducing Antibiotic Resistance in Agricultural Settings," on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. The presentation is part of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America Annual Meetings, Nov. 3-6 in Tampa, Florida. The theme of this year's conference is "Water, Food, Energy, & Innovation for a Sustainable World".
The vast majority of Americans do not have direct contact with food animals. Thus, other pathways to how humans contract ABR bacteria need to be studied. Currently, there are so many different kinds of antibiotic resistance, scientists cannot agree on the best way to measure it, and sometimes even scientists measuring the same ABR gene can get different results. Although some ways to measure ABR bacteria have been standardized in the medical field for decades, there are no standards for how to measure and track ABR in agriculture and in soil sciences.
There are three components of studying antibiotic resistance: the drugs (antibiotics), the bugs (bacteria) and their genes. Manure is how the ABR genes get into the soil; it's the vehicle to transport the bugs. How these bugs are then getting into the food supply—or another method of human contamination—is an interdisciplinary study.
Explore further: Soil bacteria and pathogens share antibiotic resistance genes