Modern hospitals and antibiotic therapy alone haven’t created all of the strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria we see today. New research has discovered, instead, that selection pressures by widespread use of antibiotics have influenced the development of some.
Using analysis and sequencing technology only developed in recent years, scientists from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Oslo, and the University of Cambridge have created an evolutionary timeline for the bacterium, Enterococcus faecalis, a common bacterium that can cause antibiotic resistance to cause infections in hospitals.
Results published today (March 9, 2021) in Nature Communications It turns out that these bacteria have the ability to adapt very quickly to selection pressures, such as the use of chemicals in agriculture as well as the development of new drugs, which have caused different strains of the same bacteria can be found in many places around the world, from the majority of people the guts of many. From a wild bird. Given its widespread prevalence, researchers suggest that people should be screened for this type of bacteria upon admission to hospital, as it is for other superbugs, to help reduce the likelihood of infection and spreading it within healthcare.
Enterococcus faecalis is a common bacterium that, in most people, is found in the intestine and does not cause harm to the host. However, if someone is immunocompromised and these bacteria enter the bloodstream, they can cause a serious infection.
In hospitals, it is common to find antibiotic-resistant strains of E. faecalis, and it was initially thought that the widespread use of antibiotics and other germ control measures in modern hospitals caused the development of these strains.
In a new study, scientists from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Oslo and the University of Cambridge analyzed about 2,000 samples of E. faecalis from 1936 to the present day using bloodstream isolation from patients and stool samples from healthy animals and humans.
By sequencing genomes (including chromosomes and plasmids) using a technique from Oxford Nanopore, the team mapped the bacteria’s evolutionary journey and created a timeline of when and where the different strains were developed, including those discovered at present to be resistant to antibiotics. They found that antibiotic-resistant strains developed earlier than previously thought, before the widespread use of antibiotics, so it was not only antibiotic use that caused their emergence.
Researchers found that early agricultural and medical practices, such as the use of arsenic and mercury, influenced the development of some of the strains we see now. In addition, wild birds have similar strains to the antibiotic resistance variants we see in hospitals now. This demonstrates the adaptability and resilience of this type of bacteria to evolve into new strains in the face of various adversities.
Professor Jukka Corander, co-lead author and co-faculty member at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “This is the first time that we have been able to determine the full evolution of E. faecalis from samples up to 85 years old, allowing us to see the detailed impact of lifestyles. “Humanity, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals are developing different bacterial strains. Obtaining the complete timeline of evolutionary changes would not have been possible without the analysis and sequencing techniques that can be found at the Sanger Institute.”
Dr Anna Pontenen, co-lead author and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oslo said: “Currently, when patients are hospitalized, they are scanned for some antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi and are isolated to ensure infection rates are kept as low as possible. Thanks to this study, it is possible to examine the diversity of E. faecalis and to determine which ones are most susceptible to spreading in hospitals and thus may cause harm to people who are immunocompromised. We believe that it may also be useful to screen for E. faecalis upon admission to hospitals. ”
Professor Julian Parkhill, co-author and professor in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, said: “This research has discovered that these hospital-associated strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are much older than we previously thought, and it has shed light on these amazing strains. Many enhance their survival under harsh conditions that allowed them to spread widely around the world. “
The Wellcome Sanger Institute
Cambridge, CB10 1SA
email: [email protected]
Notes to editors:
Anna K. Pontinen, Janita Tope, Sergio Arredondo Alonso, et al. (2021) The apparent adaptation in hospitals to faecal enterococci predates the modern hospital era. Nature Communications. DOI: https: /
This research was funded by the Trond Mohn Foundation, the Joint Programming Initiative in Antimicrobial Resistance, the Applied Molecular Biological Sciences Unit, the European Research Council, and the work of Marie Sklodowska-Curie.
About the University of Cambridge
The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of teaching, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. To date, 110 of the university’s subsidiaries have won the Nobel Prize.
Founded in 1209, the university has 31 independent colleges and 150 departments, colleges, and institutions. Cambridge is a global university. The student body of 19,000 students houses 3,700 international students from 120 countries. Cambridge researchers collaborate with colleagues around the world, and the university has built extensive partnerships in Asia, Africa and America.
The university is at the heart of the “Cambridge Group”, which employs more than 61,000 people and has more than 15 billion pounds in sales annually from 5,000 knowledgeable companies in and around the city. The city publishes 316 patents for every 100,000 residents.
http: // www.
The Wellcome Sanger Institute
The Wellcome Sanger Institute is a world-leading research center in genomics. We conduct extensive research that forms the foundations of knowledge in biology and medicine. We are open and helpful. Our data, results, tools, and technologies are being shared around the world to advance the science. Our ambition is big – we are undertaking projects that are not possible anywhere else. We are using the power of genome sequencing to understand and harness the information in DNA. Funded by Wellcome, we have the freedom and support to push the boundaries of genomics. Our findings are used to improve health and understanding of life on Earth. Find out more at http: // www.
Wellcome is created to improve health by helping great ideas flourish. We support researchers, tackle major health challenges, campaign for better science, and help everyone participate in scientific and health research. We are a politically and financially independent institution. https: /
[email protected]http: // dx.