To make this discovery, the researchers worked with 40 samples collected at eight different sites on the soil of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, a remote area located in the Arctic Ocean.
According to the report published in the journal Environment International, 131 genes have been discovered that make bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Those detected were associated with nine major classes of antibiotics, including aminoglycosides, macrolides and β-lactams, which are used to treat many infections.
As an example, a gene conferring MDR (multidrug resistance) was found in tuberculosis in all nuclei, while that known as blaNDM-1 was detected in more than 60% of the soil cores in the study.
According to the team, led by David Graham of the University of Newcastle in the UK, blaNDM-1 and other medically important ARGs have probably spread over the Arctic fecal matter of birds and other wild animals, as well as visitors for the area.
Three years after the first detection of the blaNDM-1 gene in surface waters of urban India, we found them thousands of miles away in an area where there was a minimal human impact, Graham said.
Intrusion into areas such as the Arctic reinforces the speed and extent of spread of antibiotic resistance, confirming that solutions must be seen in global rather than just local terms, he said.
What humans did through the overuse of antibiotics on global scales is to accelerate the pace of evolution, creating a new world of invulnerable strains that have never existed before, he explained.
With such over consumption, fecal releases and contamination of drinking water, we accelerate the rate at which superbugs can develop, he said.
jha / rml