According to this month’s Ontario Pork Newsletter, Patrick Boerlin, Department of Pathobiology professor at the University of Guelph, is collaborating with researchers at the University of Guelph and the Public Health Agency of Canada to understand and lesson antibiotic resistance in bacteria using a genetic approach.
Specifically, Boerlin and his collaborators are identifying and locating the bacterial genes responsible for disease and antibiotic resistance in two forms of E. coli bacteria – one good, one bad.
The bad form, pathogenic E. coli, can cause disease. The good form, known as commensal E. coli, isn’t a direct threat – but it can aid in spreading antibiotic resistance genes to harmful bacteria. Because the two forms of E. coli can readily exchange genes for antibiotic resistance between one another, resistance in good E. coli may still increase antibiotic resistance levels in both bacteria types.
Knowing more about the linkage between genes will help researchers develop and select appropriate antibiotics for treatment – that is, antibiotics that effectively destroy these virulent bacteria without causing resistant strains.