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General Information

Document type
  • Peer-reviewed journal article
Study Type
  • Horizontal gene transfer
GE organism
  • maize
GE trait
  • insect resistance
  • France
  • Switzerland


Safety for consumption
  • no effect
Safety for environment
  • no effect

Antibiotic-resistant soil bacteria in transgenic plant fields Open Access

Demanèche, S; Sanguin, H; Poté, J; Navarro, E; Bernillon, D; Mavingui, P; Wildi, W; Vogel, TM; Simonet, P
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2008 March. 105(10):3957-3962

Link to full text (open access, freely available)

PMID: 18292221 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0800072105 ISSN: 1091-6490


Understanding the prevalence and polymorphism of antibiotic resistance genes in soil bacteria and their potential to be transferred horizontally is required to evaluate the likelihood and ecological (and possibly clinical) consequences of the transfer of these genes from transgenic plants to soil bacteria. In this study, we combined culture-dependent and -independent approaches to study the prevalence and diversity of bla genes in soil bacteria and the potential impact that a 10-successive-year culture of the transgenic Bt176 corn, which has a blaTEM marker gene, could have had on the soil bacterial community. The bla gene encoding resistance to ampicillin belongs to the beta-lactam antibiotic family, which is widely used in medicine but is readily compromised by bacterial antibiotic resistance. Our results indicate that soil bacteria are naturally resistant to a broad spectrum of beta-lactam antibiotics, including the third cephalosporin generation, which has a slightly stronger discriminating effect on soil isolates than other cephalosporins. These high resistance levels for a wide range of antibiotics are partly due to the polymorphism of bla genes, which occur frequently among soil bacteria. The blaTEM116 gene of the transgenic corn Bt176 investigated here is among those frequently found, thus reducing any risk of introducing a new bacterial resistance trait from the transgenic material. In addition, no significant differences were observed in bacterial antibiotic-resistance levels between transgenic and nontransgenic corn fields, although the bacterial populations were different.


antibiotic resistance; GMO; HGT


Funding source
  • National Research Agency
  • National Agency for Sanitary Safety of Food, Environment and Labor
Funding country
  • France
Funding type
  • government

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Cite this study


Demanèche, S, H Sanguin, J Poté, E Navarro, D Bernillon, P Mavingui, W Wildi, TM Vogel, P Simonet. "Antibiotic-resistant soil bacteria in transgenic plant fields." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105.10 (2008): 3957-3962. Web. 7 Dec. 2023.


Demanèche, S., Sanguin, H., Poté, J., Navarro, E., Bernillon, D., Mavingui, P., Wildi, W., Vogel, TM., & Simonet, P. (2008). Antibiotic-resistant soil bacteria in transgenic plant fields. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(10), 3957-3962. doi:10.1073/pnas.0800072105

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