Ancient antibiotic resistance

A tribe of Yanomami Amerindians in a remote mountainous area in southern Venezuela have never used antibiotics, they bacteria present in their bodies are resistant to modern drugs, according to research from Washington University St Louis. The tribe, which existed in isolation from other people for the last 11000 years has the most diverse range of bacteria and yet these "remote" microbes have many of the genes that confer antibiotic resistance on the pathogenic bacteria with which scientists are familiar in the rest of the world. Many antibiotics were developed by chemists from natural products made by microbes and fungi to defend themselves against bacteria, the Yanomami may well have been exposed to these compounds through natural sources and as such provide us with important clues today about how drug resistance develops.