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Dusty Resistance

Antibiotic-resistance genes have been found in dust in forms that could be passed to other bacteria, New Scientist reports.

Researchers led by Northwestern University's Erica Hartmann examined samples of dust they collected from 43 buildings for antibiotic resistance genes. In all, they analyzed 166 dust metagenomes to find 183 antibiotic resistance genes, of which 52 were potentially mobile, as they reported in PLOS Pathogens Thursday. Most of these mobile genetic elements were transposons, followed by integrons and plasmids.

This suggested to the researchers that indoor dust could be a reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes and a place where such genes could be swapped between bacteria. "The finding suggests that people in households where people frequently take antibiotics could be at higher risk of getting infected with antibiotic resistant 'superbugs' – although it isn't known if this is actually happening," New Scientist adds.