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Paul Orwin

I wonder why you characterize this as "surprising"? I suppose I speak from the vantage point of someone who thinks about stuff like this a lot (although I don't think I am an expert by any stretch), but I see this as expected. Especially considering Jo Handelsman's work on the resistome in various soils, antibiotic resistance (and production) is widespread in the soil environment. The two, of course, go hand in hand, both as a prerequisite for survival (first rule of evolutionary success - don't commit suicide!) and as a possible tool for competition. Yes, I know, there is a prominent member of the STC community who thinks antibiotics are a tool for communication! Regardless of that hypothesis, they clearly are widespread in the soil environment and toxic at high concentrations, so bacteria need to protect themselves. The identification of new mechanisms is quite interesting and important (and cave microbiology is awesome!), but I don't really see the surprise. Surely antibiotic production genes are evolutionarily ancient (relative to human medicine, certainly), so we should expect a healthy environmental reservoir of them along with resistance genes in tandem.

Elio replies.
Nice to hear form you again, Paul. I guess surprise is about as subjective a term as there is, but you have a point.

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