Antibiotic resistance in the air

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Antibiotic-resistance in the air

Are antibiotic resistance genes threatening to quietly disperse through our environment, traveling long distances through the air? What risks does such a spread pose to us? Researchers are looking into the matter.


There are bioaerosols in the air.

Antibiotic resistance is a global concern. Some infections are now becoming more difficult to treat due to lack of adequate response to the administration of one or more antibiotics, as for the pain, products like cbd roll on for pain Fresh Bros is the best choice. The modes of dispersion of these superbugs have been studied in soil and water, but very little in the air.

Caroline Duchaine holds the Canada Research Chair in Bioaerosols. She says that the role air plays in the acquisition of multidrug-resistant bacteria is completely unknown in current literature.


Caroline Duchaine is a researcher at the Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec – Laval University and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Bioaerosols.

“It is not yet clear how to incorporate air values ​​into individual or [wide] population risk calculations. »

— Caroline Duchaine, researcher and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Bioaerosols

With colleagues from different institutions, she oversees a research project on the issue. We wonder about the degree of exposure to which the population or workers are subjected when they are at a greater or lesser distance from potential sources of emission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, whether hospitals, livestock farms, sewage treatment plants.

Studying the phenomenon is not an easy task, because it is necessary to carefully capture the air and look in the bioaerosols, fine particles in suspension, for those likely to present antibiotic resistance genes.


The installation is used to measure the compounds released into the air during slurry spreading.

Air sampling is done, among other places, in agricultural areas. Stéphane Godbout, agro-environmental engineer at the Institute for Research and Development in Agro-Environment (IRDA), is taking part. Its installation, in a greenhouse, makes it possible to measure the aerial portion of microorganisms that will be dispersed in the air during manure spreading where bacteria carrying antibiotic resistance genes can hide.

“We measure air in and out. We know the flow of air that passes and then we see if the concentrations in the air change due to the spreading of different compounds. »

—Stéphane Godbout

Sampling operations are carried out in other environments, such as sewage treatment plants or hospitals, but also on a larger scale. Paul George is a postdoctoral researcher at the University Institute of Cardiology and Pulmonology of Quebec. He has analyzed car filters that have circulated in 51 cities across the country; in these filters, particles present in the ambient air have been trapped.


Recovered auto filter for analysis purposes

With the collaboration of French researchers, air sampling was even carried out at 1400 meters, at the Puy-De-Dôme research station, in France. At this elevation, strong, sustained winds can rapidly transport microorganisms over very great distances.

Florent Rossi was a postdoctoral fellow at the Clermont-Ferrand Institute of Chemistry, in France, and is now at the University Institute of Cardiology and Pneumology of Quebec, under the supervision of Caroline Duchaine.


“So far, 29 different resistance genes have been observed and at concentrations which are not negligible since #x27;we estimate that we would have about 7 resistance genes per bacterial cell in the clouds. »

— Florent Rossi, postdoctoral fellow at the University Institute of Cardiology and Pulmonology of Quebec – Laval University


Florent Rossi is a postdoctoral fellow at the University Institute of Cardiology and Pulmonology of Quebec – Laval University.

A portion of the bacteria collected during the sampling missions must then be cultured to assess their viability. Their journey through the air is a source of stress. Some will perish from exposure to oxygen, loss of water (desiccation), or exposure to sunlight.

The bacteria will then be placed in culture media containing antibiotics, and researchers will be able to observe the nature of those that survived and those that retained their ability to resist antibiotics.


A culture medium containing bacteria, some of which are potentially resistant to antibiotics.

It must be said that bacteria, over the course of evolution, have acquired a formidable capacity to adapt, both to survive in hostile environments and to exchange antibiotic resistance genes among themselves. They can transfer genetic material to their offspring as well as to neighboring bacteria and even from dead bacteria to living bacteria.

“By incorporating genetic material from the deceased, living bacteria will be able to acquire new abilities, including potentially the ability to resist antibiotics. »

— Maurice Boissinot, microbiology researcher, CHU de Québec-Laval University Research Center

Finally, it is in the laboratory, on an animal model, that we can measure whether these superbugs, at the end of their journey through the air, maintain the capacity to infect us when they come into contact with us, either by respiratory or intestinal. Will other bacteria present in the intestine prevent the growth of this new microorganism?

As André Marette, professor and researcher at the Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec, will the expression of antibiotic resistance genes be the same? Will it be increased, will it be decreased? That, we will be able to analyze and demonstrate in this study.


André Marette is a professor and researcher at the University Institute of Cardiology and Pneumology of Quebec – Laval University.</p >

For now, the collection of samples continues, as does the data analysis work. The share of risk to our health, associated with the dispersal of antibiotic resistance genes in the air, may still hold surprises. Researcher Caroline Duchaine, who is leading this project, aptly reminds us: We don’t have to find a problem. We just want to see how it contributes, if it contributes and to what extent… Measuring the risk is something very, very difficult.

The report of& #x27;André Bernard is broadcast on the show Découverte on Sundays at 6:30 p.m. on ICI Radio-Canada Télé.

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