Bacteria may travel thousands of miles through the air worldwide instead of hitching rides with people and animals, according to Rutgers and other scientists. Their “air bridge” hypothesis could shed light on how harmful bacteria share antibiotic resistance genes.
According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.
“Our research suggests that there must be a planet-wide mechanism that ensures the exchange of bacteria between faraway places,” said senior author Konstantin Severinov, a principal investigator at Waksman Institute of Microbiology and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.
Bacteriophages – viruses of bacteria – are the most abundant and ubiquitous forms of life on the planet, the study notes. The viruses have a profound influence on microbial populations, community structure and evolution.