Antimicrobial resistance in Antarctica: is it still a pristine environment?
Although traditionally viewed as a relatively pristine environment, antibiotic-resistant genes and antibiotic-resistant determinants were found in studies all across the continent. Initial evaluations suggest that AMR in most of Antarctica may closely represent a ‘pre-antibiotic state’ and can therefore be used as a proxy to model AMR interactions and propagation in more industrialised regions. However, many questions remain, especially with regard to the levels of naturally occurring AMR (as opposed to anthropogenically introduced AMR) due to the isolated, ad hoc nature of the studies reported and the wide varieties of methodologies employed. Certainly, more functional studies are required to verify the activities and interactions of antibiotic resistance genes identified in sequencing studies, along with whole-genome sequencing of cultivated Antarctic antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
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