Antibiotic resistance genes found in 14th century human poop
London: French scientists have discovered antibiotic resistance genes in fossilised human feces from 14th century, long before antibiotics were used in medicine.
Analysing the fecal sample from Belgium for its viral components, researchers found a range of phages - viruses that infect bacteria.
The viruses in the fecal sample are phages rather than infecting eukaryotic organisms such as animals, plants, and fungi.
Most of the viral sequences the researchers found in the ancient coprolite (fossil fecal sample) were related to viruses currently known to infect bacteria commonly found in stools (and hence, in the human gastrointestinal tract).
These included both bacteria that live harmlessly, and even helpfully in the human gut, and human pathogens, said corresponding author Christelle Desnues of Aix Marseille Universite in France.
The communities of phage within the coprolite were different, taxonomically, from those seen within modern human fecal samples, but the functions they carry out appear to be conserved, said Desnues.
The finding reinforces the hypothesis that the viral community plays a fundamental role within the human gastrointestinal tract, and one which remains unchanged after centuries, even while the human diet and other human conditions have been changing, researchers said.
Over the last five years, considerable evidence has emerged that bacteria inhabiting the gut play an important role in maintaining human health, for example, as part of the human metabolic system, said Desnues.
Her own research suggests that bacteriophage infecting the gut bacteria may help maintain these bacteria. Among the genes found in the phage are antibiotic resistance genes and genes for resistance to toxic compounds.
Both toxins and antibiotics are common in nature, and Desnues suggests that the resistance genes may simply be protecting the gut bacteria from them.
"Our evidence demonstrates that bacteriophages represent an ancient reservoir of resistance genes and that this dates at least as far back as the Middle Ages," said Desnues.
"We were interested in viruses because these are 100 times more abundant than human cells in our bodies, but their diversity is still largely unexplored," said Desnues.
The study was published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Essel Group launches 'Asha 2022' affordable housing scheme
- Panel discussion on clashes at JNU over Afzal Guru row
- Soldier buried under avalanche found alive at Siachen glacier
- Panel discussion on detention of goat for grazing in bureaucrat's garden
- JNU students call terrorist Afzal Guru a martyr amid anti-nationalist slogans
- Drunk girl creates ruckus in Delhi's Connaught Place; arrested - Watch
- JNU erupts over 'Shaheed Afzal Guru', 'Azad Kashmir'; rival student groups clash, police deployed
- WATCH: 'Sting videos of Kejriwal govt's minister Imran Hussain's staffer demanding bribe of Rs 25 lakh for his boss'
- AAP poster showing Arvind Kejriwal with Bhindranwale sparks row in Punjab
- Video of Hanumanthappa's rescue that went viral on social media is fake - Watch