Antibiotic-resistant bacteria discovered in Antarctica. The question is: Will they stay there?

Reuters enlightens a pandemic-weary world with news of a discovery of new life in the icy wastes of Antarctica. Unfortunately, the Chilean scientists study the novel bacteria say they’re genetically resistant to antibiotics and could easily spread that DNA to germs on other continents as the ice continues to melt:

Andres Marcoleta, a researcher from the University of Chile who headed the study published in the Science of the Total Environment journal in March, said that these “superpowers” which evolved to resist extreme conditions are contained in mobile DNA fragments that can easily be transferred to other bacteria.

“We know that the soils of the Antarctic Peninsula, one of the polar areas most impacted by melting ice, host a great diversity of bacteria,” Marcoleta said. “And that some of them constitute a potential source of ancestral genes that confer resistance to antibiotics.”

Researchers found that the Pseudomonas bacteria, one of the predominant bacteria groups in the Antarctic Peninsula, are not pathogenic but can be a source of ‘resistance genes’, which are not stopped by common disinfectants such as copper, chlorine or quaternary ammonium.

However, the other kind of bacteria they researched, Polaromonas bacteria, does have the “potential to inactivate beta-lactam type antibiotics, which are essential for the treatment of different infections,” said Marcoleta.