- Plant foods may transmit resistance to gut microbial strains as well as animal foods, according to these findings in mice, presented at the ASM Microbe 2019 meeting.
- The authors urge addressing foodborne resistance through all components of the food chain, including plants.
Why this matters
- Livestock are known vectors for antibiotic-resistant genes, but a role for plants is unclear.
- Plants grown for human consumption are often fertilized with products from antibiotic-fed livestock, say the authors.
- The CDC currently bases its calculations of annual antibiotic-resistant infections linked to agriculture using animal-vectored transmission only.
- These authors say that the bacteria on plant foods could colonize the gut after being eaten.
- Treatments with antibiotics and antacids and types of food accompanying the ingestion affected colonization capacity.
- Lettuce was the plant food used in this study, with leaves exposed to Escherichia coli contamination.
- The researchers fed mice contaminated lettuce and analyzed the ability of the resistant bacteria to colonize the gut following ingestion and under various conditions (e.g., antibiotic treatment).
- They used stool samples to quantify bacterial colonization.
- The study was performed using mice, and the results were presented at a conference without peer review.