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Soil bacteria and pathogens share antibiotic resistance genes

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Disease-causing bacteria’s efforts to resist antibiotics may get help from their distant bacterial relatives that live in the soil, new research at Washington University School of Medicine suggests.

The researchers found identical genes for antibiotic resistance in soil bacteria and in pathogens from clinics around the world. The matches prove that the two groups of bacteria have recently shared these genes but do not establish the direction of the sharing.

The results will be presented Feb. 20 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, British Columbia. The presentation is part of a panel discussion titled “Winning: Superbugs or Surveillance and Science?”

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