El Niño Opens Up a Bridge for Bacteria to Travel Between Continents

Posted by K R on

Major climate events have opened up land bridges during prehistory, along which animals and humans traveled to new continents. A new study proposes that major weather events, like El Niño, open up “water bridges” that allow bacteria to do the same.

An international team of researchers has been working with the National Institute of Health (INS) in Peru, looking at the genetic history of pathogens that have sprung up in Latin America over the past few decades. They found odd correlations with pathogens that were already established in Asia. This could be attributed to people or livestock carrying the pathogen making it across the ocean in boats. But based on the timing, the researchers believe it could be an unknown consequence of El Niño. Their findings are published in Nature Microbiology. When looking at disease-causing agents, the researchers were specifically looking at vibrios—bacteria that float around in sea water. Not all of these bacteria are harmful, but about a dozen cause serious illnesses, including cholera and the deep misery that’s the result of eating undercooked shellfish. Read More: Gizmodo

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