Nanoparticles Increase Antibiotic Resistance Among Bacteria

  • Author: ChemistryViews
  • Published: 18 March 2012
  • Copyright: WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
  • Source / Publisher: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
thumbnail image: Nanoparticles Increase Antibiotic Resistance Among Bacteria

Antibiotic resistance is a worldwide public health concern. Conjugative transfer between closely related strains or species of bacteria is an important method for the horizontal transfer of multidrug-resistance genes.
Nanoalumina can be used to remove contaminants from water. Their use in water treatment processes is believed to increase, because nanoalumina has a much greater surface area and a greater absorption capacity for contaminants compared with alumina, which is currently being used as a good absorber for water treatment processes.

Zhigang Qiu, Institute of Health and Environmental Medicine, Tianjin, China, and colleagues show that nanomaterials in water can significantly promote the horizontal conjugative transfer of multidrug-resistance genes mediated by the RP4, RK2, and pCF10 plasmids. Nanoalumina can promote the conjugative transfer of the RP4 plasmid from Escherichia coli to Salmonella spp. by up to 200-fold compared with untreated cells.

Using electron microscopy, the team shows nanoalumina damages bacterial cell membranes and promotes the formation of bridge-like connections between cells. This is one of the preliminary steps involved in the transfer of genetic material between bacteria. The nanoparticles also influence the expression of genes that govern the gene-transfer process.

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