Antibiotic eating bacteria; Research

Structure of antibiotic - SulfamethazineScientists, for the first time ever, have found a soil bacterium that lives on antibiotic.

This study has been done by researchers from Canada and France, and published online in the Journal of Environmental Quality.

It is strange as many of us already know that bacteria could become resistant to antibiotics. There are some bacteria that could use antibiotics for living. It means those antibiotics are actually not the antibiotics for certain bacteria. If you want to kill such bacteria stop using those antibiotics.

Researchers have discovered a soil bacterium, Microbacterium sp. that lives on common veterinary antibiotic, sulfamethazine. This strain of bacterium is an an actinomycete that uses sulfamethazine as a source of nitrogen and carbon. Researchers have found that the drug sulfamethazine started disappearing five times faster in the soils.

Sulfamethazine and other antibiotics are commonly used in animals to keep them healthy but they are also excreted in the excreta that could be used as fertilizer at many places.

According to Ed Topp, a soil microbiologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in London, Ontario, some soil bacteria are already known which are living on agricultural pesticides and herbicides but this is the first study reporting a bacterium that uses an antibiotic to protect itself and to live. “I think it’s kind of a game changer in terms of how we think about our environment and antibiotic resistance,” he said in a statement.

This research shows that there are chances of more capable bacteria in the world and if it’s indeed true that “the microbiology in the environment is learning to break these drugs down more rapidly when exposed to them, this would effectively reduce the amount of time that the environment is exposed to these drugs and therefore possibly attenuate the impacts,” Topp says.


Topp, E., Chapman, R., Devers-Lamrani, M., Hartmann, A., Marti, R., Martin-Laurent, F., Sabourin, L., Scott, A., & Sumarah, M. (2012). Accelerated Biodegradation of Veterinary Antibiotics in Agricultural Soil following Long-Term Exposure, and Isolation of a Sulfamethazine-degrading sp. Journal of Environment Quality DOI: said in a statement

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  • Senior2014

    Fresh Research and scary Results !!! I loved this article .. and I’ll use it as my seminar topic next semester InshaAllah 🙂 Thanks