Do Seas Make Us Sick? Surfers May hold the Answer

Then, working in collaboration with U.C.S.D.’s Center for Microbiome Innovation — a quick jaunt across the quad via his lab — Mr. Kapono as well as also his colleagues sequence as well as also map the microbes found on This kind of unusually amphibious demographic.

He as well as also his colleagues are looking for signs of antibiotic-resistant organisms. Part of their aim is actually to determine whether, as well as also to what extent, the ocean spreads the genes for resistance.

Many antibiotics used today derive via chemicals produced by microbes to defend themselves or to attack some other microorganisms. No surprise, then, which strains of competing bacteria have also evolved the genetic means to shrug off these chemicals.


Samples collected via different parts of the bodies such as feet, hand, nose, ears, mouth, navel as well as also eyes.

Ariana Drehsler for The brand-new York Times

While drug resistance comes about because of antibiotic overuse, the genes responsible for creating resistance are widely disseminated in nature as well as also have been evolving in microbes for eons. Startlingly, which means genes giving rise to drug resistance can be found in places untouched by modern antibiotics.

Several years ago, researchers identified antibiotic-resistant genes in a sample of ancient permafrost via Nunavut, inside Canadian Arctic. William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, was among those showing which these genes conferred a resistance to amikacin, a semi-synthetic drug which did not exist before the 1970s.

“There was a gene which encoded resistance to This kind of in something which was alive 6,000 years ago,” he said in an interview.

Another group led by Hazel Barton, a microbiologist at the University of Akron, discovered microorganisms harboring antibiotic-resistance genes inside Lechuguilla Cave in brand-new Mexico. These bacteria, called Paenibacillus sp. LC231, have been isolated via Earth’s surface for four million years, yet testing showed they were capable of fending off 26 of 40 modern antibiotics.

Sixty different resistance genes were found in bacteria carried by the Yanomami, an indigenous group inside Amazon, in one village thought to have been isolated until researchers visited in 2009. Resistance has also been identified in mummified human remains dating to the 11th century.

These genes are not just pervasive in nature — they are also being passed around in unexpected ways. An abundance of resistance genes has been found in bacteria floating in Beijing’s smog. A survey of developing countries identified chicken coops as well as also urban wastewater treatment facilities as potential “hot spots” for the swapping of resistance genes.

The ocean, home to an incredible diversity of dissolved chemistry, also acts as a reservoir for these genes, as well as also researchers are trying to figure out if they move via the seas into the human population. So who better to study than surfers?

“A lot of the research of the transmission of resistant bacteria has focused on the role of the health care environment,” said Anne Leonard, an environmental epidemiologist at the University of Exeter who is actually investigating whether surfers have higher rates of bacterial colonization. “What’s less well studied is actually the role which natural environments play.”

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