- Press Release Distribution

Deforestation favors an increase in the diversity of antibiotic-resistant soil bacteria

Study analyzed some 800 million DNA sequences extracted from 48 soil samples collected in Pará State and northern Mato Grosso State, both of which are part of the Amazon biome

Deforestation favors an increase in the diversity of antibiotic-resistant soil bacteria
( In Brazil, a study conducted by researchers affiliated with the University of São Paulo (USP) and collaborators showed that deforestation in the Amazon causes an increase in the diversity of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. An article on the study, published in Soil Biology and Biochemistry, compares the microorganisms that live in the soil of native forest with those found in pasture and croplands. The researchers found a far larger number of genes considered markers of antibiotic resistance in deforested than forested areas.

“Bacteria produce substances with which to attack each other in a competition for resources that’s usual in any environment. When an area is deforested, however, several factors intensify this competition, favoring the bacteria that can resist these substances. If they reach humans, these microorganisms can become a major problem,” said Lucas William Mendes, a researcher supported by FAPESP at USP’s Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture (CENA) in Piracicaba, in the state of São Paulo, and last author of the article.

The study was part of a project linked to the FAPESP Research Program on Biodiversity Characterization, Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use (BIOTA-FAPESP) and led by Tsai Siu Mui, a professor at CENA-USP.

Antibiotic resistance is a global public health emergency, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which says drug-resistant diseases cause some 700,000 deaths per year worldwide.

In the study, the researchers at CENA-USP, collaborating with colleagues at the Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (ESALQ-USP) and scientists at the National Laboratory for Scientific Computing in Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro State, analyzed some 800 million DNA sequences extracted from 48 soil samples collected in Pará State and northern Mato Grosso State, both of which are part of the Amazon biome.

Using bioinformatics tools, the researchers ran the DNA sequences from the samples against a genetic database and found 145 antibiotic-resistant genes that trigger 21 different molecular mechanisms. Although antibiotic-resistant bacteria are present in forest soil, these microorganisms and their resistance mechanisms are much more abundant in the soil of pasture, deforested areas, and croplands.

Deforestation microorganisms

“The process of occupation in the Amazon consists of first logging the most valuable trees and then clearing and burning all the rest to make way for crops or forage grass for cattle,” Mendes said. “Besides ash from the burned vegetation, the soil is limed to reduce the acidity and other agrochemicals are applied. The abundance of nutrients fuels bacterial proliferation and fierce competition for resources.”

Previous studies by the CENA-USP group showed that despite the reduction in forest soil microorganism diversity, the abundance of bacteria benefited plants by nutrient cycling and augmented photosynthesis, and also had positive effects on the atmosphere, including carbon fixation and consumption of methane, the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide.

In the latest study, the researchers were struck by the large quantity of bacteria that were resistant to two specific classes of antibiotics, tetracyclines and beta-lactamases. Medications with these active ingredients are widely used to treat cattle diseases and can reach the soil via feces and urine since absorption of antibiotics in cattle is low. Furthermore, the use of livestock manure as fertilizer can contribute to the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, according to the researchers.

Scientists cannot be sure that microorganisms immune to antibiotics are capable of migrating from the soil of the Amazon to food produced there, such as grain, sugarcane, and beef. “Some research assumes the transfer can occur, but to date, no studies have demonstrated it,” Mendes said. “It needs to be watched carefully because if these drug-resistant bacteria reach humans, they’ll cause a serious public health problem.”

Nor are there any immediate solutions to prevent bacteria from multiplying in cultivated soil. Management techniques that take into account other functions of microorganisms besides boosting crop yield, such as nutrient cycling and reducing species that produce methane, for example, could help mitigate the problem.

This can be done by transplanting natural soil to a cultivated area or using inoculants, microorganism-based products that perform important functions in the soil and also reduce the need for fertilizer and agrochemicals. Indeed, the market for microbiome-based agricultural products is expected to be worth more than 10 billion US dollars by 2025 (read more at:

In the Amazon, solutions and opportunities may be very near a pasture or plantation, in the soil of the native forest.


About São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)

The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) is a public institution with the mission of supporting scientific research in all fields of knowledge by awarding scholarships, fellowships and grants to investigators linked with higher education and research institutions in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. FAPESP is aware that the very best research can only be done by working with the best researchers internationally. Therefore, it has established partnerships with funding agencies, higher education, private companies, and research organizations in other countries known for the quality of their research and has been encouraging scientists funded by its grants to further develop their international collaboration. You can learn more about FAPESP at and visit FAPESP news agency at to keep updated with the latest scientific breakthroughs FAPESP helps achieve through its many programs, awards and research centers. You may also subscribe to FAPESP news agency at

[Attachments] See images for this press release:
Deforestation favors an increase in the diversity of antibiotic-resistant soil bacteria


How India's rice production can adapt to climate change challenges

How Indias rice production can adapt to climate change challenges
URBANA, Ill. ¬- As the global population grows, the demand for food increases while arable land shrinks. A new University of Illinois study investigates how rice production in India can meet future needs by adapting to changing climate conditions and water availability. "Rice is the primary crop in India, China, and other countries in Southeast Asia. Rice consumption is also growing in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world," says Prasanta Kalita, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at U of I and lead author on the study. "If you look at where they traditionally grow rice, it is countries that have ...

Climate change damaging North America's largest temperate rainforest, harming salmon

New research released in Bioscience found that a remote region of North America's largest temperate rainforest is experiencing changes to its ecosystem due to climate change. Brian Buma, a researcher and professor of integrated biology at University of Colorado Denver, co-leads the research network that outlined the changes in a new paper. North America's largest remaining temperate rainforest, located in Southeast Alaska, is one of the most pristine and intact ecosystems. The entire ecosystem stretches well over 2,000 km from north to south and stores more carbon ...

Preterm birth, prolonged labor influenced by progesterone balance

New research by the National Institutes of Health found that unbalanced progesterone signals may cause some pregnant women to experience preterm labor or prolonged labor. The study in mice -- published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences -- provides novel insights for developing treatments. During pregnancy, the hormone progesterone helps to prevent the uterus from contracting and going into labor prematurely. This occurs through molecular signaling involving progesterone receptor types A and B, referred to as PGR-A and PGR-B. In this ...

HAWC Gamma Ray Observatory discovers origin of highest-energy cosmic rays in the galaxy

HAWC Gamma Ray Observatory discovers origin of highest-energy cosmic rays in the galaxy
LOS ALAMOS, N.M., March 11, 2021--A long-time question in astrophysics appears to finally be answered, thanks to a collection of large, high-tech water tanks on a mountainside in Mexico. The High-Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) data shows that the highest-energy cosmic rays come not from supernovae, but from star clusters. "The origin of the highest-energy cosmic rays in the galaxy has been an open question in astrophysics for more than 60 years," said Patrick Harding, a Los Alamos National Laboratory astrophysicist doing research using HAWC. "Very few regions of the galaxy have both the power to produce high-energy ...

Fatal police violence nearby increases risk of preterm birth

Black women have 80% higher risk of preterm birth between 32 and 33 weeks of pregnancy if a Black person who lives in their neighborhood is killed by police during the pregnancy, according to a study by researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley. The study by scientists at the UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative (PTBI-CA) and UC Berkeley School of Public Health, studied the records of 3.8 million pregnant women to assess whether fatal police violence occurring in their neighborhood during pregnancy was associated with extremely early, early, moderate or late preterm delivery. "Our findings suggest that deaths due to police violence, which already differentially affect Black and Brown communities, adversely affect the health of mothers and babies ...

With masks on, three feet is just as safe as six feet apart in Massachusetts schools

BOSTON - As COVID-19 infection rates continue to fall, Massachusetts officials are signaling it's almost time to end remote learning and send all school-aged children back to the classroom. While emerging data suggest young children and schools have not been primary drivers of the COVID-19 pandemic, evidence to guide best practices to prevent the spread of the virus in the school setting has been limited and, as a result, national and international recommendations are inconsistent. A study led by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) physician-researchers provides new, much-needed data about the optimal physical ...

Climate change influences river flow

Climate change is affecting the water balance of our planet: depending on the region and the time of year, this can influence the amount of water in rivers potentially resulting in more flooding or drought. River flow is an important indicator of water resources available to humans and the environment. The amount of available water also depends on further factors, such as direct interventions in the water cycle or land use change: if, for example, water is diverted for irrigation or regulated via reservoirs, or forests are cleared and monocultures grown in their place, this can have an impact on river flow. However, how river flow ...

Polarization: From better sunglasses to a better way of looking at asteroid surfaces

Polarization: From better sunglasses to a better way of looking at asteroid surfaces
Using the same principles that make polarized sunglasses possible, a team of researchers at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico have developed a technique that will help better defend against asteroids on a collision course with Earth. A new study recently published in The Planetary Science Journal found a better way to interpret radar signals bounced off asteroids' surfaces. The data can better tell us if an asteroid is porous, fluffy or rocky, which matters because there are hundreds of near-Earth asteroids that could potentially hit the planet. "Learning more about the physical properties of asteroids is crucial in Planetary Defense," says Dylan Hickson the lead author and a research scientist at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. "A porous, fluffy asteroid does ...

Hubble sees new atmosphere forming on a rocky exoplanet

Hubble sees new atmosphere forming on a rocky exoplanet
The planet GJ 1132 b appears to have begun life as a gaseous world with a thick blanket of atmosphere. Starting out at several times the radius of Earth, this so-called "sub-Neptune" quickly lost its primordial hydrogen and helium atmosphere, which was stripped away by the intense radiation from its hot, young star. In a short period of time, it was reduced to a bare core about the size of Earth. To the surprise of astronomers, new observations from Hubble [1] have uncovered a secondary atmosphere that has replaced the planet's first atmosphere. It is rich in hydrogen, hydrogen cyanide, methane and ammonia, and also has a hydrocarbon haze. Astronomers theorise that hydrogen from the original atmosphere was absorbed into the planet's molten magma mantle and is now being slowly released ...

New insight into how cancer spreads

New insight into how cancer spreads
Breast cancer is harmful enough on its own, but when cancer cells start to metastasize -- or spread into the body from their original location -- the disease becomes even more fatal and difficult to treat. Thanks to new research published in Oncogene from the lab of University of Colorado Cancer Center associate director of basic research Heide Ford, PhD, in collaboration with Michael Lewis, PhD, from Baylor College of Medicine, doctors may soon have a better understanding of one mechanism by which metastasis happens, and of potential ways to slow it down. "Metastasis is a huge problem nobody's tackled very well," says Ford, who ...


Mount Sinai researchers use new deep learning approach to enable analysis of electrocardiograms as language

Ba2LuAlO5: A new proton conductor for next-generation fuel cells

Fine-tuning 3D lab-grown mini tumors to help predict how patients respond to cancer therapies

Social media ‘trust’/’distrust’ buttons could reduce spread of misinformation

Programmable 3D printed wound dressing could improve treatment for burn, cancer patients

Do chatbot avatars prompt bias in health care?

Team develops smartphone app to enhance midwifery care in Tanzania

Webb telescope detects universe’s most distant organic molecules

Breastfeeding for longer may be linked to better exam results in later life

Close contact intervention between a mother and her premature baby may reduce risk of mortality by almost a third

Defibrillators used in just 10 per cent of out of hospital cardiac arrests - study shows

Virtual blood vessel technology could improve heart disease care

The ISSCR releases global standards to enhance rigor and reproducibility of stem cell research

Childhood maltreatment predicts adult emotional difficulties

New analysis shows COVID variant and severity of illness influence cardiac dysfunction, a key indicator of long COVID

Renowned sociologist and Black Voices Quintet set to dazzle at HDR UK’s Black Internship Programme Opening Ceremony 2023

Sleep societies announce 2023 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Award recipient

NPS professor and student develop patented self-sealing fuel line

A supervised hospital walking program may reduce nursing facility admissions for older adults

Unraveling the mode of action of tirzepatide

Study shows promising treatment for tinnitus

BORIS gene mutation and expression: Link to breast cancer progression

Healthy vascular fat during menopause may stave off dementia later in life

Germline genetic testing after cancer diagnosis – this study is being released to coincide with presentation at the 2023 ASCO Annual Meeting

A simple blood test can now diagnose De Vivo disease

Amid volumes of mobile location data, new framework reduces consumers’ privacy risk, preserves advertisers’ utility

Early universe crackled with bursts of star formation, Webb shows

NASA’s Webb Space Telescope peers behind bars

New digital tool enables farmer’s decisions for sustainable agriculture

CRISPR/Cas9 reveals a key gene involved in the evolution of coral skeleton formation

[] Deforestation favors an increase in the diversity of antibiotic-resistant soil bacteria
Study analyzed some 800 million DNA sequences extracted from 48 soil samples collected in Pará State and northern Mato Grosso State, both of which are part of the Amazon biome