antibiotic resistant superbug has prehistoric origins

antibiotic resistant superbug has prehistoric origins
Highlights

Leading hospital “superbugs,” known as the enterococci, arose from an ancestor that dates back 450 million years — about the time when animals were first crawling onto land (and well before the age of dinosaurs), according to a new study led by researchers from Massachusetts Eye and Ear, the Harvard-wide Program on Antibiotic Resistance and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Leading hospital “superbugs,” known as the enterococci, arose from an ancestor that dates back 450 million years — about the time when animals were first crawling onto land (and well before the age of dinosaurs), according to a new study led by researchers from Massachusetts Eye and Ear, the Harvard-wide Program on Antibiotic Resistance and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Published online today in Cell, the study authors shed light on the evolutionary history of these pathogens, which evolved nearly indestructible properties and have become leading causes of modern antibiotic-resistant infections in hospitals. Some microbes, often referred to as “superbugs,” are resistant to virtually all antibiotics. “By analyzing the genomes and behaviors of today’s enterococci, we were able to rewind the clock back to their earliest existence and piece together a picture of how these organisms were shaped into what they are today” said co-corresponding author Ashlee M Earl.

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