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Potential for phage biotechnology to mitigate antimicrobial resistance in agriculture IN Sustainable agriculture reviews: Mitigation of Antimicrobial Resistance, (edited by HPanwar, CSharma and ENLichtfouse), Springer Nature.


The prevalence of key antibiotic resistant bacteria was reported by the World Health Organization in 2014 and they found very high rates of resistance in all regions of the globe. The United States Centres for Disease Control has also estimated that 20% of the two million antibiotic resistant infections in the US are linked to agricultural use. Antibiotics provide a vital function in reducing mortality in humans and animals, so their efficacy must be protected by coordinated action across multiple sectors, including agriculture. Alongside better antibiotic stewardship, a key to achieving this goal must be the development of new antimicrobial agents. For agriculture, a renewed focus on intensification, food security and reduced food loss also provide additional pressures on controlling bacterial infections and spoilage. Here, we discuss the potential of a new class of antimicrobial agents, phages, as a replacement or supplement, to some of the conventional antibiotics currently used in agriculture. We show that phages have many of the desirable properties needed to control bacterial diseases in agriculture including efficacy, low levels of resistance, lack of cross-resistance to antibiotics, biodegradability and narrow target range.

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