Clouds can spread antibiotic-resistant bacteria, Canadian-French study finds – CTV

April 28, 2023

The spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria poses a major threat to global health and food security as the use of antibiotics continue to grow. And now, a team of researchers from Quebec and France say bacteria with antibiotic-resistant genes can even spread through the clouds.

The study, published last month in the journal Science of The Total Environment, looked at samples taken from clouds at the Puy de Dôme summit, located 1,465 metres above the ground atop a dormant volcano in central France.

Analysis of the samples found anywhere between 330 to over 30,000 bacteria per millilitre of cloud water, with the average being around 8,000.

“This is the first study to show that clouds harbour antibiotic resistance genes of bacterial origin in concentrations comparable to other natural environments,” lead author Florent Rossi of the Université Laval said in a news release. “These bacteria usually live on the surface of vegetation or soil. They are aerosolized by the wind or by human activities, and some of them rise into the atmosphere and participate in the formation of clouds.”

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