The current information gap as to mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance and transfer in Bacillus species precludes full understanding and impedes solutions. Molecular biological investigations of resistance and transfer are underway with the aim to develop a system for rapid and direct detection of antibiotic resistant genes in pathogenic bacteria such as Bacillus anthracis.
Under antibiotic selective pressure, bacteria have the ability to acquire and exchange antibiotic resistance genes, making them unsusceptible to antibiotic treatments. Exchange of genes may also occur between genetically closely related Bacillus species of the cereus group – B. cereus, B. thuringiensis and B. anthracis. Rapid and specific therapy with antibiotics can be vital in cases of serious infectious diseases. It is therefore important to follow the evolution of antibiotic resistances in the bacterial population in order to prevent the emergence of multidrug resistant strains in bacteria that are currently still sensitive to antibiotics.
The aim of this study is to develop a rapid diagnosis system for Bacillus anthracis, the etiological agent that causes anthrax. The system should allow identification of strains and direct detection of antibiotic resistance genes. However, in contrast to our knowledge of bacteria such as staphylococci and enterococci, little is known about the resistance mechanisms of Bacillus and how they are transferred. We are therefore investigating the molecular biology and antibiotic resistance mechanisms of B. cereus and B. thuringiensis. The goal is detection of resistance genes specific to Bacillus species and increased understanding of their potential to acquire and spread antibiotic resistance genes.
The results will increase our knowledge of the widespread phenomenon of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. A new and efficient method of detecting antibiotic resistance genes will allow prevention and surveillance of the emergence of B. anthracis strains that could harbour certain antibiotic resistance genes. This new method is also applicable for other bacteria and can be implemented in antibiotic resistance surveillance programs.