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Agricultural fungicides may promote antibacterial resistance

A medical example of Aspergillus fumigatus, an azole-resistant strain. Credit: CDC

A new study at the University of Georgia has shown for the first time that compounds used to combat fungal diseases of plants cause resistance to antifungal drugs used to treat people.


This study focused on Aspergillus fumigatus, a fungus that causes aspergillosis, a disease that causes life-threatening infections in 300,000 people worldwide each year.Was announced in G3: Genes, Genomes, GeneticsResearch linked agricultural use of azole — compounds used to fight Fungal disease In plants — to reduce the effectiveness of clinical azoles used to treat fungal infections in patients.

“Our results show that resistance to compounds used to combat fungal infections in humans develops in the agricultural environment,” said the study’s corresponding author, Faculty of Agricultural Environmental Sciences. Marin T. Brewer, an associate professor of mycology in Tokyo, said. “The samples we collected at the farm are environment And clinical azoles used to treat people. “

Treatment-resistant fungi are widespread in the agricultural industry

Fungi can be a threat to both humans and plants, killing more than 1.5 million people annually and resulting in 20% crop loss.

It is not uncommon to find A. fumigatus in the environment. It’s levitating and everywhere. Most people breathe without problems, but it can cause serious infections in people with weakened immunity.

If you are infected with a strain that is resistant to agricultural azole fungicides, the clinical azoles used in healthcare will also be ineffective.

“Azole-resistant A. fumigatus is widespread in agricultural environments, especially those like compost,” said the corresponding author of the study and professor of fungal biology at the Department of Plant Biology at Franklin University of Arts and Sciences. One Michelle Momany says. “People with weakened immunity and at risk of fungal infections need to be very careful in these situations.”

Strains of treatment-resistant fungi on farms closely related to hospital farms

Brewer and Momany, both members of UGA’s interdisciplinary fungal biology group (research.franklin.uga.edu/fungi/), Led a team to collect soil, plant material and compost samples from 56 sites in Georgia and Florida. Recently, most places have been treated with a mixture of fungicides, including azoles and other fungicides, which are used only in agriculture, not patients. However, the two sites are organically grown and have been free of fungicides for over 10 years.

After recovering A. fumigatus strains, researchers discovered 12 strains that were highly resistant to azoles used in agriculture and medicine. The 12 strains also showed high levels of resistance to two non-azole fungicides that were not used to treat humans.

Researchers used whole-genome sequencing to create a genetic genealogy of A. fumigatus strains from the environment and patients. They found that the mechanism of azole resistance identified in strains from the agricultural environment was consistent with that seen in patients. Azole-resistant strains from patients are also resistant to non-azole fungicides that are never used by people, indicating that these strains were in the agricultural environment before the patient was infected.

“Environmental and human strains are very closely related to each other,” Brewer said. “There are not different strains that develop resistance in humans and the environment. It’s all the same. Therefore, people with these resistant infections will probably get them from the environment. . “

The urgent need for new eco-friendly fungicides

Of the 25 multiazole-resistant strains included in the study, 8 from the agricultural environment and 12 from patients were also resistant to non-azole agricultural fungicides.Tolerance of these multiple fungicides stock It was from the agricultural environment of the United States and India and the clinical environment of the United States, the Netherlands and India.

“A. fumigatus, resistant to multiple fungicides, exists worldwide, both in the environment and in the clinic,” says Momany.

“This emergence severely limits the usefulness of fungicides for controlling phytopathogens while maintaining the clinical usefulness of azole,” Brewer said. “We urgently need effective agriculture Fungicide It is not toxic to the environment, which does not lead to the rapid development of widespread resistance in the clinic. ”


How drug-resistant pathogen strains meet and evolve in plant bulbs


For more information:
S Earl Kang et al, Evidence of Agricultural Origin of Resistance to Multiple Antibiotics in Aspergillus Fumigatus, a Human Fungal Pathogen, G3 Gene | Genome | Genetics (2021). DOI: 10.1093 / g3journal / jkab427

Quote: Agricultural fungicides may promote antibacterial resistance (February 8, 2022).

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Agricultural fungicides may promote antibacterial resistance

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