Feedlots may be contributing to antibiotic resistance, research suggests


Source: UNE

via Beef Central (Australia) - 12/01/2022


FEEDLOT manure carries antibiotic-resistant bacteria with the potential to amplify the growing crisis in human antibiotic resistance, new research has found.


Analysis by University of New England PhD student Fadhel Abbas found that farm soils on which feedlot manures had been spread carried significantly higher levels of bacteria resistant to antibiotics compared to untreated soils.


Mr Abbas’s finding that antibiotic bacteria that have evolved under feedlot conditions readily transfer to farmland soils has potentially significant implications for human and animal health.


Mr Abbas’s PhD supervisor, UNE microbiologist Dr Gal Winter, says that once antibiotic-resistant bacteria are in the soil, they can be transferred to humans via the skin, inhalation, or through plants.


Living bacteria may not be needed to create new generations of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, only gene fragments of dead bacteria. “Bacteria are very good at integrating DNA from their surrounding into their genome,” Dr Winter says.


Cattle feedlots routinely use antibiotics to maintain animal health in crowded, often dusty conditions. It is a global practice to collect the manure that feedlots accumulate and spread it on agricultural land to improve fertility.


The World Health Organisation nominates antibiotic resistance as one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development.


Another of Mr Abbas’s UNE supervisors, Dr Nick Andronicos, a senior lecturer in Biochemistry and Immunology, said the potential for feedlot manure to contribute to human antibiotic resistance is compounded by the use of the same classes of antibiotic for humans and animals...


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