5 Sep 2015

Herbicides and antibiotic resistance

From This Way Up, 1:30 pm on 5 September 2015
Dr Brigitta Kurenbach

Dr Brigitta Kurenbach Photo: Supplied

The problem of antibiotic resistance is typically portrayed as a problem of overuse and overprescription. Over the past decade there's been a surge in antibiotic use for both humans and livestock, and it's this that's seen as the primary explanation for why bacteria develop antibiotic resistance. But could there be other, environmental factors at play?

Dr Brigitta Kurenbach and Dr Jack Heinemann from the School of Biological Sciences at University of Canterbury have been researching the effects of using common garden weedkillers on bacteria. They've discovered that bacteria become more resistant to antibiotics in the presence of herbicides.