Colorado researchers will trace ‘superbug’ genes

Researchers at Colorado State University are examining the important issue of antibiotic resistance by tracking antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the livestock industry. The researchers want to find out the origin of the infectious organisms and also how they travel through the food system and environment to people.

The study, sponsored with $2.25 million funding from the US Department of Agriculture, has been made possible by recent advances in DNA sequencing technology.

Alan Rudolph, Colorado State vice president for research said that antimicrobial resistance is one of the most major challenges to human animal and food safety.

Keith Belk, professor in Colorado State’s Center for Meat Safety & Quality, and Dr. Paul Morley, a Colorado State veterinarian and infectious-disease expert said that food-animal production has been held responsible for contributing to antimicrobial-resistant illness, though these suspicions are not justifiable in science. With many colleagues, Belk and Morley are leading the research project.

The scientists are expecting to better understand the role of agriculture in antimicrobial resistance. The two professors will use DNA sequencing technology to trace genes that lead to resistance in bacteria and they will be able to find out sources and paths, together with whether and how antimicrobial-resistant bugs move from livestock to people.

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