Researchers have revealed the discovery of an antibiotic-resistant gene in remote Arctic soil samples. The gene was only first identified a few years ago and has rapidly spread across 100 countries, into areas thousands of miles away with almost no human presence.
The new study published by an international team around David Graham from Newcastle University, UK, in the journal "Environmental International". It looked at a specific gene called blaNDM-1, responsible for producing a protein called NDM-1, which is known for conferring antibiotic resistance in a number of bacteria. The notorious gene was only discovered in 2008, but just two years later it was found in urban surface waters in Delhi, India.
The soil samples examined in this new study were collected in 2013 from the Kongsfjorden region of Svalbard, a remote archipelago north of Norway. According to researchers, this timeframe suggests the antibiotic-resistant gene took a frighteningly short period of time to spread across the globe. "This finding has huge implications for global AR spread. A clinically important ARG originating from South Asia is clearly not 'local' to the Arctic", Graham said. The researchers hypothesize the most plausible source of the contamination is bird and wildlife feces. Human impact is also considered as a potential source however the only human settlement in the region is a tiny village of less than 120 people.