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'Dirt may yield better antibiotics'

Scientists in Canada are digging into dirt to find out how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2006 13:46 IST

Scientists in Canada are digging into dirt to find out how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, a rapidly growing health concern around the world, said a new report in Science magazine.

Soil commonly contains large numbers of many types of bacteria. Some of these, predominantly actinomycetes, generate their own antibiotics.

Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario have found that other bacteria living in the soil are highly resistant to the actinomycetes-produced antibiotics.

They found that the way these soil bacteria become resistant is similar to how bacteria that infect humans with disease become resistant to man-made antibiotic drugs.

"By evolving in an environment of antibiotic production, incredibly resilient bacteria must develop diverse ways to survive or resist the toxic antimicrobial compounds produced by their neighbors," said Professor Gerry Wright, who led the research team.

"Their coping tactics may be able to give us a glimpse into the future of clinical resistance to antibiotics," he said in a statement.

Studying the bacteria found in dirt, compost and other natural sources for resilience-building methods "could prove to be extremely valuable to the drug development process," he added.

First Published: Jan 21, 2006 13:46 IST