Microplastics may cause bacteria to develop higher antibiotic resistance

As bacteria become less likely to die from existing antibiotics, it is harder for scientists and doctors to treat infections and protect public health.

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A recent study from Rice University has found how microplastic particles may increase antibiotic resistance. As microplastics are found everywhere from takeout containers, to clothing, to even being found in drinking water, this is alarming data. 

According to EcoWatch, scientists at Rice University’s George R. Brown School of Engineering found that microplastics offer a habitat for bacteria, chemical contaminants and genetic materials that give bacteria higher antibiotic resistance. As the plastic particles age, they release chemicals that can make vectors more receptive to horizontal gene transfer. This is how the antibiotic-resistant antibiotic-resistance genes (ARGs) can then spread.

With the help of microplastics, bacteria have the potential of becoming more and more antibiotic-resistant, which would be greatly harmful to human immune systems when fighting an infection. 

According to the CDC, more than 2.8 million people in the U.S. alone become infected from antibiotic-resistant germs each year. As bacteria become less likely to die from existing antibiotics, it is harder for scientists and doctors to treat infections and protect public health, continues author Paige Bennett at EcoWatch. 

Another study made back in June also made the connection between antibiotic-resistance and microplastics saying: 

Microplastics can form distinct bacterial communities and absorb pollutants from the surrounding environment, which provide potential hosts and exert possible selection pressure of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs).

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