AMR genes primarily pass to closely related species – Genetic Education

AMR genes primarily pass to closely related species

“Antibiotic resistance is a global and emerging health problem. It would be a challenge for healthcare professionals and medical practitioners in the near future.”  

Antibiotic resistant gene

24, Nov 2023, Nature: Antibiotic or antimicrobial resistance is a global problem in treating infectious diseases. Approximately 7,00,000 deaths are reported annually by antibiotic resistance and the problem still continues. 

In a nutshell, an antibiotic-resistant gene, present in bacteria, helps them to develop a defense mechanism against a particular type of antibiotic. The antibiotic loses its effectiveness over time. 

The gene is usually located on the bacterial plasmid DNA which is a circular, small and dsDNA free from the bacterial chromosome. It can replicate independently and infect new cells. Thereby it inherits the AMR gene to new cells. 

Research suggests that the AMR gene passes down horizontally from one to another bacterium. By producing various mutations it can alter its structure and adjust according to the antibiotic given to the patient. 

The global burden of antibiotic resistance has increased in recent times and become a universal health problem. Various research suggests how the AMR gene can be inherited and altered. However, one particular research study published in Nature on 24, Nov 2023 suggests how it can be passed down. 

The study was conducted on 12 bacterial species, 27, 155 genomes and against 69 drugs. Researchers have used pangenomic analysis and the machine learning technique for investigations. 

Their findings postulate that the AMR gene predominantly transfers to related species. Around 925 genes are reported to transfer in closely related species, however, in contrast, only eight genes are transferred to related classes.   

These findings would play an empirical role in drug targeting, developing novel strategies against an AMR gene and reduction of global antibiotic resistance. Notedly, the present study has been carried out using the machine learning program and using available data. 

No real suspects or lab work has been conducted to validate the results and data. The bacterial database has been downloaded from the PATRIC database and the AMR gene has been identified using direct annotation of alleles.  

Source: Hyun, J.C., Monk, J.M., Szubin, R. et al. Global pathogenomic analysis identifies known and candidate genetic antimicrobial resistance determinants in twelve species. Nat Commun 14, 7690 (2023).

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