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Environment

Bacteria Can Travel Thousands Of Miles Through The Air

10 months ago

2849  0
Posted on Mar 28, 2019, 10 p.m.

New evidence has been provided showing that bacteria can travel thousands of miles through the air on its own without having to rely on animals or people for its transport. A new Air Bridge theory may explain how harmful bacteria have the same antibiotic genes in common, the hypothesis will be tested in the future by identifying bacteria present in the air at different altitudes and locations around the world, as published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

...research suggest there must be a planet wide mechanism that ensures the exchange of bacteria between faraway places. Because the bacteria we study live in hot water in remote places it is not feasible to imagine humans, animals, or birds transport them; they must be transported by air and this movement must be extensive so bacteria in isolated places share common characteristics..” explains Professor Konstantin Severinov of Rutgers University and the Waksman Institute of Microbiology.

Thermus thermophilus bacteria was collected in hot gravel on Mount Vesuvius and from hot springs in Russia, Italy, and Chile, the investigation provided a record of when bacteria encountered viruses; bacteriophage viruses that infect bacteria can be found everywhere on the planet that bacteria exists, and can have a profound influence on microbial populations.

When bacterial cells are infected by viruses they store molecular memories in regions of their DNA called CRISPR arrays; cells which survive infections pass these memories as small pieces of viral DNA to offspring; history of these bacterial interactions with viruses can be traced by looking at the chronological order of the memories.

Bacteria collected from the hot springs thousands of miles away from each other were expected to have different memories of virus encounters even though they were of the same species; and it was thought bacteria would have evolved independently of each other becoming different, but this was not the case.

“...What we found is there were plenty of shared memories, identical pieces of viral DNA stored in the same order in the DNA of bacteria from distant hot springs. Analysis may inform ecological and epidemiological studies of harmful bacteria that share antibiotic resistance genes globally, and may get dispersed by air instead of travelers…” according to Severinov.

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