Cockroaches, Alligators & Other Weird Sources of New Drugs

Cockroaches, Alligators & Other Weird Sources of New Drugs


Antibiotics are one of humankind’s most amazing
discoveries. Ever since that fateful day in 1928 when Scottish physician Alexander Fleming
noticed a funny mold growing in one of his petri dishes, antibiotics have been kicking
bacterial butt. That famous mold, of course, was producing
penicillin, the founding antibiotic superstar, which has since extended the average human
life by at least a decade. It fundamentally changed the face of medicine. Antibiotics,
or antimicrobials, are basically selective poisons designed to either kill or slow the
growth of bacteria to the point where your body’s own immune system can clean up. These
drugs target a specific part of bacteria or some important stage in their development
without damaging the body’s host cells. And they’re really great their job. Until they
aren’t. Lately, antibiotic technology has been having
a hard time keeping pace with bacterial evolution. We’ve talked here on SciShow about how lots
of your die-hard, go-to favorite antibiotics are starting to lose their mojo in the face
of sneaky and rapidly evolving bacteria. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
estimates that at least 2,000,000 Americans became infected with drug-resistant bacteria
in 2012, and 23,000 of them died as a result. These superbugs are deadly serious and could
quickly unleash a global health crisis if we don’t find a way to keep them in check.
The problem is we’ve already hit up many of the most obvious sources of antibiotics, like
fungi, which includes penicillin, and synthetic molecules.
Fortunately, we humans have big, delicious brains, and some of the best of them are hard
at work trying to invent all-new ways to kill dangerous bacteria or find other organisms
on the planet that are better at it than we are so we can steal their secrets. And while
they’re finding some promising leads, I gotta say, they’re looking in some pretty weird
places. [Intro] You know how everyone jokes that after some
big global disaster, only cockroaches will survive? Well, we recently found what may
partially explain their famous, and infuriating, tenacity. Research from the University of
Nottingham suggests that certain insects, like roaches and locusts, have brain tissues
that are infused with super-powered antibiotic juju. The researchers found nine different
antibiotic molecules tucked into the roaches’ nervous systems that may be protecting them
from otherwise lethal bacteria. They’re all a type of molecule known as peptides, short
chains of amino acids that make up proteins, kinda like proto-proteins. And these peptides
are specific to the bugs’ brains. They seem to be chemicals that roaches” brain cells
use to communicate with each other, y’know, whenever a cockroach is sitting around thinking
about stuff, which I guess can happen, and although we’re not sure how these peptides
actually work, laboratory tests have shown that they’re incredibly effective at eliminating
some of our least favorite bacteria, like the most dangerous strains of e.coli, which
cause gastrointestinal infections. And even MRSA, a super-resistant type of staphylococcus
bacterium that can cause unstoppable deadly infections in humans, particularly in hospitals.
In lab trials, these roach brain molecules killed over 90% of MRSA bacteria, without
harming any host cells. So I can guess what you’re thinking: shut
up and take my money! Well, hold on a sec, because we’re a bit away from having cockroach
brains on the pharmacy shelves. There’s still loads of technical hurdles to overcome, tests
to conduct, basic things we need to figure out, like how exactly these molecules work.
But roaches aren’t the only hardy animals out there. Alligators are some of the Earth’s
most rugged beasts. They essentially live in cesspool swamps teeming with bacteria and
fungus and other microbes, and more than that, they’re known brawlers. Put just a few territorial
800 pound toothy reptiles together in a dirty swamp, and you will no doubt come out with
some serious bite marks and bloody wounds, even missing limbs. But amazingly, what you
probably won’t find are any infections. This got some bayou scientists to thinkin’!
Dr. Mark Merchant, a biochemist at McNeese State University in Louisiana, helped conduct
a decade long study that investigated what makes alligators so unusually resistant to
bacterial and fungal infection. Turns out, it’s in their blood. An alligator’s
immune system is largely innate, meaning it can fight off harmful micro-organisms without
having any prior exposure to them. They just pop right out of their eggs ready to do battle.
We humans also have some innate immunity, provided by things like our skin and white
blood cells, but a big part of our immunities are adaptive, meaning we often develop a resistance
to specific diseases only after being exposed to them. Which of course is not ideal all
the time, but alligators get to skip this step. Researchers examining blood samples from American
alligators isolated their infection fighting white blood cells and then extracted the active
proteins working in those cells. And these two included a special class of peptides which
seemed to have a knack for weakening the membranes of bacteria, causing them to die. When pitted
against a wide range of bacteria including drug-resistant MRSA, these tough little peptides
proved to be effective killers. They also wiped out 6 of 8 strains of candida albicans,
a type of yeast infection that’s particularly troublesome for AIDS and transplant patients
with weakened immune systems. Such compounds may also be found in similar animals, like
crocodiles, Komodo dragons, and the skins of some frogs and toads. So far, lab trials
have shown that gator blood can kill at least 23 different strains of bacteria including
salmonella, e.coli, staph, and strep infections AND even a strain of HIV. For now, scientists
are working to find the exact chemical structures at work in four of these promising chemicals
and pinpoint which types are best at killing which microbes. One problem so far: high concentrations
of gator blood serum have already been found to be so powerful that they are toxic to human
cells. So other biologists are taking a different approach in the search for the next generation
of antibiotics. Rather than looking at other animals, they’re
exploring strange, new places, like cave soils and deep-sea sediments. Researchers have recently
discovered evidence of promising new fungi strains living way down in hundred million
year old nutrient-starved sediments in the Pacific Ocean. Everyone thought this was a
near-dead zone for life, too harsh and remote an environment for something like fungi to
survive in. Just a decade ago, the only living things known to inhabit such deep sediment
layers were single-celled bacteria and archaea, organisms known to flourish in extreme environments.
But while examining dredged up sediments from as deep as 127 meters into the sea floor,
scientists found fungi of at least eight different types, four of which they successfully cultured
in the lab. Some of the fungi even belonged to the genus Penicillium, which we have to
thank for the development of penicillin. Now, we’re not exactly sure how old these fungi
are, but they are definitely quite old and maybe, more importantly, they appear to have
been living in isolation for eons. If that’s the case, they may have evolved specific and
unusual defenses against bacteria, which, just like their penicillin kin in that famous
petri dish, could end up being a new and powerful source of antibiotics.
And there’s one more strategy that scientists are using, one that works in espionage as
well as in medicine. And that is seeing what the enemy is up to.
While exploring life in strange new places around the world, some biologists are looking
for bacteria that have never been exposed to our drugs, but still appear to be naturally
resistant to them. Wherever we find the most naturally resistant
bacteria, we might also find natural antibiotics that we never knew about.
And here, one of the most promising leads is again in one of the hardest-to-reach places:
New Mexico’s Lechuguilla cave, a place that was isolated from all human contact until
it was discovered in the 1980’s. One of the many fascinating things that scientists
have discovered here is that the cave bacteria seem to be resistant to everything.
Even though they’ve never been exposed to us or our drugs, all of the bacteria have
proven to be resistant to at least one major antibiotic, and many tend to fend off more
than a dozen of the most powerful antimicrobials we have. This suggests to scientists that
the bacteria have evolved to be this way because they live in an environment that’s rich in
naturally occurring antibiotics, ones that the germs we live with up here on the surface
have never encountered. Now we just have to find out what exactly
those compounds are. So look, I’m not going to lie to you: we have
a lot of work to do. While we might discover a new super-drug lurking
in a cave or under the sea or in a cockroach’s head, there’s a big difference between finding
a substance that cleans house in a petri dish and actually putting a new antibiotic in the
vein of a human patient. So the bummer is, as promising as some of
these bold new discoveries may be, none of them has yet yielded an actual marketable
drug. Still, there’s a long list of successful antibiotics
that we’ve managed to derive from strange sources, starting with Dr. Fleming’s rogue
fungus. So if we keep exploring strange new places
and studying how other animals deal with the problems we’re facing, we just might find
the next penicillin before the superbugs get the best of us. Thanks for watching this SciShow Infusion,
especially to our Subbable subscribers. To learn how you can support us in exploring
the world, just go to Subbable.com. And as always, if you want to keep getting smarter
with us, you can go to YouTube.com/SciShow and subscribe.

Cockroaches, Alligators & Other Weird Sources of New Drugs


Antibiotics are one of humankind’s most amazing
discoveries. Ever since that fateful day in 1928 when Scottish physician Alexander Fleming
noticed a funny mold growing in one of his petri dishes, antibiotics have been kicking
bacterial butt. That famous mold, of course, was producing
penicillin, the founding antibiotic superstar, which has since extended the average human
life by at least a decade. It fundamentally changed the face of medicine. Antibiotics,
or antimicrobials, are basically selective poisons designed to either kill or slow the
growth of bacteria to the point where your body’s own immune system can clean up. These
drugs target a specific part of bacteria or some important stage in their development
without damaging the body’s host cells. And they’re really great their job. Until they
aren’t. Lately, antibiotic technology has been having
a hard time keeping pace with bacterial evolution. We’ve talked here on SciShow about how lots
of your die-hard, go-to favorite antibiotics are starting to lose their mojo in the face
of sneaky and rapidly evolving bacteria. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
estimates that at least 2,000,000 Americans became infected with drug-resistant bacteria
in 2012, and 23,000 of them died as a result. These superbugs are deadly serious and could
quickly unleash a global health crisis if we don’t find a way to keep them in check.
The problem is we’ve already hit up many of the most obvious sources of antibiotics, like
fungi, which includes penicillin, and synthetic molecules.
Fortunately, we humans have big, delicious brains, and some of the best of them are hard
at work trying to invent all-new ways to kill dangerous bacteria or find other organisms
on the planet that are better at it than we are so we can steal their secrets. And while
they’re finding some promising leads, I gotta say, they’re looking in some pretty weird
places. [Intro] You know how everyone jokes that after some
big global disaster, only cockroaches will survive? Well, we recently found what may
partially explain their famous, and infuriating, tenacity. Research from the University of
Nottingham suggests that certain insects, like roaches and locusts, have brain tissues
that are infused with super-powered antibiotic juju. The researchers found nine different
antibiotic molecules tucked into the roaches’ nervous systems that may be protecting them
from otherwise lethal bacteria. They’re all a type of molecule known as peptides, short
chains of amino acids that make up proteins, kinda like proto-proteins. And these peptides
are specific to the bugs’ brains. They seem to be chemicals that roaches” brain cells
use to communicate with each other, y’know, whenever a cockroach is sitting around thinking
about stuff, which I guess can happen, and although we’re not sure how these peptides
actually work, laboratory tests have shown that they’re incredibly effective at eliminating
some of our least favorite bacteria, like the most dangerous strains of e.coli, which
cause gastrointestinal infections. And even MRSA, a super-resistant type of staphylococcus
bacterium that can cause unstoppable deadly infections in humans, particularly in hospitals.
In lab trials, these roach brain molecules killed over 90% of MRSA bacteria, without
harming any host cells. So I can guess what you’re thinking: shut
up and take my money! Well, hold on a sec, because we’re a bit away from having cockroach
brains on the pharmacy shelves. There’s still loads of technical hurdles to overcome, tests
to conduct, basic things we need to figure out, like how exactly these molecules work.
But roaches aren’t the only hardy animals out there. Alligators are some of the Earth’s
most rugged beasts. They essentially live in cesspool swamps teeming with bacteria and
fungus and other microbes, and more than that, they’re known brawlers. Put just a few territorial
800 pound toothy reptiles together in a dirty swamp, and you will no doubt come out with
some serious bite marks and bloody wounds, even missing limbs. But amazingly, what you
probably won’t find are any infections. This got some bayou scientists to thinkin’!
Dr. Mark Merchant, a biochemist at McNeese State University in Louisiana, helped conduct
a decade long study that investigated what makes alligators so unusually resistant to
bacterial and fungal infection. Turns out, it’s in their blood. An alligator’s
immune system is largely innate, meaning it can fight off harmful micro-organisms without
having any prior exposure to them. They just pop right out of their eggs ready to do battle.
We humans also have some innate immunity, provided by things like our skin and white
blood cells, but a big part of our immunities are adaptive, meaning we often develop a resistance
to specific diseases only after being exposed to them. Which of course is not ideal all
the time, but alligators get to skip this step. Researchers examining blood samples from American
alligators isolated their infection fighting white blood cells and then extracted the active
proteins working in those cells. And these two included a special class of peptides which
seemed to have a knack for weakening the membranes of bacteria, causing them to die. When pitted
against a wide range of bacteria including drug-resistant MRSA, these tough little peptides
proved to be effective killers. They also wiped out 6 of 8 strains of candida albicans,
a type of yeast infection that’s particularly troublesome for AIDS and transplant patients
with weakened immune systems. Such compounds may also be found in similar animals, like
crocodiles, Komodo dragons, and the skins of some frogs and toads. So far, lab trials
have shown that gator blood can kill at least 23 different strains of bacteria including
salmonella, e.coli, staph, and strep infections AND even a strain of HIV. For now, scientists
are working to find the exact chemical structures at work in four of these promising chemicals
and pinpoint which types are best at killing which microbes. One problem so far: high concentrations
of gator blood serum have already been found to be so powerful that they are toxic to human
cells. So other biologists are taking a different approach in the search for the next generation
of antibiotics. Rather than looking at other animals, they’re
exploring strange, new places, like cave soils and deep-sea sediments. Researchers have recently
discovered evidence of promising new fungi strains living way down in hundred million
year old nutrient-starved sediments in the Pacific Ocean. Everyone thought this was a
near-dead zone for life, too harsh and remote an environment for something like fungi to
survive in. Just a decade ago, the only living things known to inhabit such deep sediment
layers were single-celled bacteria and archaea, organisms known to flourish in extreme environments.
But while examining dredged up sediments from as deep as 127 meters into the sea floor,
scientists found fungi of at least eight different types, four of which they successfully cultured
in the lab. Some of the fungi even belonged to the genus Penicillium, which we have to
thank for the development of penicillin. Now, we’re not exactly sure how old these fungi
are, but they are definitely quite old and maybe, more importantly, they appear to have
been living in isolation for eons. If that’s the case, they may have evolved specific and
unusual defenses against bacteria, which, just like their penicillin kin in that famous
petri dish, could end up being a new and powerful source of antibiotics.
And there’s one more strategy that scientists are using, one that works in espionage as
well as in medicine. And that is seeing what the enemy is up to.
While exploring life in strange new places around the world, some biologists are looking
for bacteria that have never been exposed to our drugs, but still appear to be naturally
resistant to them. Wherever we find the most naturally resistant
bacteria, we might also find natural antibiotics that we never knew about.
And here, one of the most promising leads is again in one of the hardest-to-reach places:
New Mexico’s Lechuguilla cave, a place that was isolated from all human contact until
it was discovered in the 1980’s. One of the many fascinating things that scientists
have discovered here is that the cave bacteria seem to be resistant to everything.
Even though they’ve never been exposed to us or our drugs, all of the bacteria have
proven to be resistant to at least one major antibiotic, and many tend to fend off more
than a dozen of the most powerful antimicrobials we have. This suggests to scientists that
the bacteria have evolved to be this way because they live in an environment that’s rich in
naturally occurring antibiotics, ones that the germs we live with up here on the surface
have never encountered. Now we just have to find out what exactly
those compounds are. So look, I’m not going to lie to you: we have
a lot of work to do. While we might discover a new super-drug lurking
in a cave or under the sea or in a cockroach’s head, there’s a big difference between finding
a substance that cleans house in a petri dish and actually putting a new antibiotic in the
vein of a human patient. So the bummer is, as promising as some of
these bold new discoveries may be, none of them has yet yielded an actual marketable
drug. Still, there’s a long list of successful antibiotics
that we’ve managed to derive from strange sources, starting with Dr. Fleming’s rogue
fungus. So if we keep exploring strange new places
and studying how other animals deal with the problems we’re facing, we just might find
the next penicillin before the superbugs get the best of us. Thanks for watching this SciShow Infusion,
especially to our Subbable subscribers. To learn how you can support us in exploring
the world, just go to Subbable.com. And as always, if you want to keep getting smarter
with us, you can go to YouTube.com/SciShow and subscribe.

Cockroaches, Alligators & Other Weird Sources of New Drugs


Antibiotics are one of humankind’s most amazing
discoveries. Ever since that fateful day in 1928 when Scottish physician Alexander Fleming
noticed a funny mold growing in one of his petri dishes, antibiotics have been kicking
bacterial butt. That famous mold, of course, was producing
penicillin, the founding antibiotic superstar, which has since extended the average human
life by at least a decade. It fundamentally changed the face of medicine. Antibiotics,
or antimicrobials, are basically selective poisons designed to either kill or slow the
growth of bacteria to the point where your body’s own immune system can clean up. These
drugs target a specific part of bacteria or some important stage in their development
without damaging the body’s host cells. And they’re really great their job. Until they
aren’t. Lately, antibiotic technology has been having
a hard time keeping pace with bacterial evolution. We’ve talked here on SciShow about how lots
of your die-hard, go-to favorite antibiotics are starting to lose their mojo in the face
of sneaky and rapidly evolving bacteria. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
estimates that at least 2,000,000 Americans became infected with drug-resistant bacteria
in 2012, and 23,000 of them died as a result. These superbugs are deadly serious and could
quickly unleash a global health crisis if we don’t find a way to keep them in check.
The problem is we’ve already hit up many of the most obvious sources of antibiotics, like
fungi, which includes penicillin, and synthetic molecules.
Fortunately, we humans have big, delicious brains, and some of the best of them are hard
at work trying to invent all-new ways to kill dangerous bacteria or find other organisms
on the planet that are better at it than we are so we can steal their secrets. And while
they’re finding some promising leads, I gotta say, they’re looking in some pretty weird
places. [Intro] You know how everyone jokes that after some
big global disaster, only cockroaches will survive? Well, we recently found what may
partially explain their famous, and infuriating, tenacity. Research from the University of
Nottingham suggests that certain insects, like roaches and locusts, have brain tissues
that are infused with super-powered antibiotic juju. The researchers found nine different
antibiotic molecules tucked into the roaches’ nervous systems that may be protecting them
from otherwise lethal bacteria. They’re all a type of molecule known as peptides, short
chains of amino acids that make up proteins, kinda like proto-proteins. And these peptides
are specific to the bugs’ brains. They seem to be chemicals that roaches” brain cells
use to communicate with each other, y’know, whenever a cockroach is sitting around thinking
about stuff, which I guess can happen, and although we’re not sure how these peptides
actually work, laboratory tests have shown that they’re incredibly effective at eliminating
some of our least favorite bacteria, like the most dangerous strains of e.coli, which
cause gastrointestinal infections. And even MRSA, a super-resistant type of staphylococcus
bacterium that can cause unstoppable deadly infections in humans, particularly in hospitals.
In lab trials, these roach brain molecules killed over 90% of MRSA bacteria, without
harming any host cells. So I can guess what you’re thinking: shut
up and take my money! Well, hold on a sec, because we’re a bit away from having cockroach
brains on the pharmacy shelves. There’s still loads of technical hurdles to overcome, tests
to conduct, basic things we need to figure out, like how exactly these molecules work.
But roaches aren’t the only hardy animals out there. Alligators are some of the Earth’s
most rugged beasts. They essentially live in cesspool swamps teeming with bacteria and
fungus and other microbes, and more than that, they’re known brawlers. Put just a few territorial
800 pound toothy reptiles together in a dirty swamp, and you will no doubt come out with
some serious bite marks and bloody wounds, even missing limbs. But amazingly, what you
probably won’t find are any infections. This got some bayou scientists to thinkin’!
Dr. Mark Merchant, a biochemist at McNeese State University in Louisiana, helped conduct
a decade long study that investigated what makes alligators so unusually resistant to
bacterial and fungal infection. Turns out, it’s in their blood. An alligator’s
immune system is largely innate, meaning it can fight off harmful micro-organisms without
having any prior exposure to them. They just pop right out of their eggs ready to do battle.
We humans also have some innate immunity, provided by things like our skin and white
blood cells, but a big part of our immunities are adaptive, meaning we often develop a resistance
to specific diseases only after being exposed to them. Which of course is not ideal all
the time, but alligators get to skip this step. Researchers examining blood samples from American
alligators isolated their infection fighting white blood cells and then extracted the active
proteins working in those cells. And these two included a special class of peptides which
seemed to have a knack for weakening the membranes of bacteria, causing them to die. When pitted
against a wide range of bacteria including drug-resistant MRSA, these tough little peptides
proved to be effective killers. They also wiped out 6 of 8 strains of candida albicans,
a type of yeast infection that’s particularly troublesome for AIDS and transplant patients
with weakened immune systems. Such compounds may also be found in similar animals, like
crocodiles, Komodo dragons, and the skins of some frogs and toads. So far, lab trials
have shown that gator blood can kill at least 23 different strains of bacteria including
salmonella, e.coli, staph, and strep infections AND even a strain of HIV. For now, scientists
are working to find the exact chemical structures at work in four of these promising chemicals
and pinpoint which types are best at killing which microbes. One problem so far: high concentrations
of gator blood serum have already been found to be so powerful that they are toxic to human
cells. So other biologists are taking a different approach in the search for the next generation
of antibiotics. Rather than looking at other animals, they’re
exploring strange, new places, like cave soils and deep-sea sediments. Researchers have recently
discovered evidence of promising new fungi strains living way down in hundred million
year old nutrient-starved sediments in the Pacific Ocean. Everyone thought this was a
near-dead zone for life, too harsh and remote an environment for something like fungi to
survive in. Just a decade ago, the only living things known to inhabit such deep sediment
layers were single-celled bacteria and archaea, organisms known to flourish in extreme environments.
But while examining dredged up sediments from as deep as 127 meters into the sea floor,
scientists found fungi of at least eight different types, four of which they successfully cultured
in the lab. Some of the fungi even belonged to the genus Penicillium, which we have to
thank for the development of penicillin. Now, we’re not exactly sure how old these fungi
are, but they are definitely quite old and maybe, more importantly, they appear to have
been living in isolation for eons. If that’s the case, they may have evolved specific and
unusual defenses against bacteria, which, just like their penicillin kin in that famous
petri dish, could end up being a new and powerful source of antibiotics.
And there’s one more strategy that scientists are using, one that works in espionage as
well as in medicine. And that is seeing what the enemy is up to.
While exploring life in strange new places around the world, some biologists are looking
for bacteria that have never been exposed to our drugs, but still appear to be naturally
resistant to them. Wherever we find the most naturally resistant
bacteria, we might also find natural antibiotics that we never knew about.
And here, one of the most promising leads is again in one of the hardest-to-reach places:
New Mexico’s Lechuguilla cave, a place that was isolated from all human contact until
it was discovered in the 1980’s. One of the many fascinating things that scientists
have discovered here is that the cave bacteria seem to be resistant to everything.
Even though they’ve never been exposed to us or our drugs, all of the bacteria have
proven to be resistant to at least one major antibiotic, and many tend to fend off more
than a dozen of the most powerful antimicrobials we have. This suggests to scientists that
the bacteria have evolved to be this way because they live in an environment that’s rich in
naturally occurring antibiotics, ones that the germs we live with up here on the surface
have never encountered. Now we just have to find out what exactly
those compounds are. So look, I’m not going to lie to you: we have
a lot of work to do. While we might discover a new super-drug lurking
in a cave or under the sea or in a cockroach’s head, there’s a big difference between finding
a substance that cleans house in a petri dish and actually putting a new antibiotic in the
vein of a human patient. So the bummer is, as promising as some of
these bold new discoveries may be, none of them has yet yielded an actual marketable
drug. Still, there’s a long list of successful antibiotics
that we’ve managed to derive from strange sources, starting with Dr. Fleming’s rogue
fungus. So if we keep exploring strange new places
and studying how other animals deal with the problems we’re facing, we just might find
the next penicillin before the superbugs get the best of us. Thanks for watching this SciShow Infusion,
especially to our Subbable subscribers. To learn how you can support us in exploring
the world, just go to Subbable.com. And as always, if you want to keep getting smarter
with us, you can go to YouTube.com/SciShow and subscribe.

How to manage insect resistance in Bt crops

How to manage insect resistance in Bt crops


About 80% of the corn and cotton planted
in North America is genetically engineered to resist pest insects. These are commonly called Bt crops and produce proteins that
target very specific pests. [MUSIC] The process of genetic engineering is
faster and more precise than traditional breeding methods alone,
allowing the modification or insertion of specific genes
without altering any other traits. [MUSIC] Bt crops were created by using genes
from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, which is a common soil bacterium that
produces proteins that are toxic to some species of pest insects. [MUSIC] The genes that produce these proteins
were inserted into the DNA of the crop. As a result,
the Bt crop produces these proteins and defends itself against specific pests. [MUSIC] When a pest feeds on the Bt plant,
the protein binds to receptors in the insect’s gut,
causing the gut wall to break down and rupture, leading to
the death of the insect. [MUSIC] These proteins must bind to specific
receptors in the pest’s gut to work. Other organisms such as humans,
other mammals, beneficial insects and spiders don’t have those receptors and
are unaffected. [MUSIC] Although, Bt crops have helped
managed pests for over 20 years, they are losing their
effectiveness against some pests. Here are a couple of reasons why. [MUSIC] First, while the goal of Bt crops is the
kill the target insects that feed on them. This is not always achieved due to
natural variability to the levels of Bt protein within a plant. This means that some tissues in a plant
may not have lethal levels of the protein. [MUSIC] Second, insect populations
are also variable. By chance, some insects are naturally
less susceptible to certain Bt proteins. They will survive and reproduce,
while the majority of the population dies. This is how resistance develops, and
resistance can always develop with any long term pest management approach,
including Bt crops. [MUSIC] However, farmers can slow down resistance
with an integrated pest management strategy, or IPM. [MUSIC] It’s a long term approach that uses
multiple pest management tools. As a result, no single approach to managing pests
should ever be seen as a standalone tool. But instead,
should be part of a larger strategy. Let’s take a look at some tools
that could be used with Bt crops to make them more effective and
long lasting. [MUSIC] It all begins with scouting. The only way to know what
pests are in the field and how much damage they have caused is by
walking out into your field and looking. Once you have accurate information
about your pest problem, then you can develop a plan of attack. [MUSIC] The second tool is crop rotation. Avoid planting Bt crops in
the same field two years in a row. You could use non Bt
varieties of the same crop or better yet grow a different crop
entirely in the alternating years. Either way this gives the insects
less exposure to Bt proteins thereby slowing their resistance to it. If a field has low pest populations,
you could avoid using Bt crops until your scouting indicates that pests
are becoming a significant problem. [MUSIC] Insecticides can be used in place
of Bt crops to manage many pests. Insects can also develop resistance
to insecticides and they too should be rotated and used only as part
of a larger pest management strategy. [MUSIC] The final tool is refuge
planting this is mandatory and involves planting part of each field
with a non-Bt hybrid of the same crop. Some bags of Bt seeds have non-Bt
seeds mixed in to create refuges. This allows some non-resistance insects
to survive and mate with any resistant insects in the vicinity and
producing non-resistant offspring. However, you may need to create a separate
refuge depending on your location. [MUSIC] Remember, none of these tools
should be used in isolation, and every tool requires vigilance,
including Bt crops. Resistance is inevitable, you always
need to pay attention to pest activity. The only way these problems will be
discovered is if someone is in the field looking for them. Look for unexpected plant damage and an increase in the number of pests
based on your past experience. If so, it’s time to get
other professionals involved to determine the nature and
extent of the problem. Your extension educator and local seed sales representative will be able to help. [MUSIC]

Superbugs: Infection Apocalypse

Superbugs: Infection Apocalypse


(ominous music) – [Voiceover] From UFOs to psychic powers and government conspiracies, history is riddled with
unexplained events. You can turn back now or learn the stuff they don’t want you to know. Here are the facts. Disease has shaped humanity, leaving indelible marks
on our civilizations and our DNA. The black plague, caused by a bacteria known as yersinia pestis killed as many as 200,000,000
people across Eurasia, fundamentally altering the
course of human history. The war between human beings and disease continues today. Fortunately, our species
found a super weapon, antibiotics. Administered in dilute solutions, these substances can
kill the micro-organisms responsible for everything
from a sore throat to pneumonia, but this is not the end of the story. From China to the UK and Madagascar, scientists across the world have found antibiotics growing less effective. The bacteria are evolving,
forcing our species to ask a terrifying question. What happens when the
medicine stops working? Here’s where it gets crazy. Multiple bacterial infections
are exhibiting resistance to one or more types
of commonly prescribed antibiotics, such as
penicillin and amoxicillin. While it sounds like something out of a sci-fi horror film, it’s entirely possible
that a future superbug may spread across the globe, a fatal infection immune
to modern medicine. To understand how this could occur, we must first look at
the life of bacteria. Every 20 minutes, a
bacteria cell can divide, meaning that if we begin
with one bacterium, at the end of an hour,
we would have eight. Bacteria, like any other life form, adapts to environmental pressures. This is, put simply,
evolution in fast forward. When doctors over-prescribe antibiotics, we create opportunities
for bacteria to adapt and cultivate resistance to medicine. Other factors are at play as well. Antibiotics aren’t just used for people and they aren’t just used for the sick. In the U.S. alone, the livestock industry uses almost 25 million pounds
of antibiotics each year, dosing hogs, chickens, and cows, not because they are ill, but because it has a
marginal effect on the weight of the animal and in theory, prevents the infections
common in factory farming. This also creates a
massive evolution factory for the bacteria infecting these animals. Eventually, one of these
bugs could transmit to human hosts. All of these disturbing facts
lead to one big question. What about the pharmaceutical companies? Why can’t they just
create new antibiotics? Unfortunately, most of the
pharmaceutical industry focuses on more profitable drugs. There’s no financial incentive to create new anti-microbial cures. In other words, why make
a drug that saves lives if it doesn’t also make a profit? This is not a conspiracy theory. The human species is looking at a post-antibiotic future, a return to a world
where an ear infection, a sore throat, childbirth or pneumonia could be a death sentence. Where transplants,
surgeries and chemotherapy become a thing of the past. To many, this may seem like alarmism. However, critics note the meat industry doesn’t officially reveal how it uses antibiotics in livestock and asks whether profits should be the guiding path for big pharma. Will the tide of humanities
ancient war against disease turn on the dime of profit? Will human greed trigger the rise of the next superbug? Apparently, that’s something
pharmaceutical companies and livestock tycoons
don’t want you to know. (ominous music) To learn more about the
rise of the superbug, tune into our audio podcast at StuffTheyDontWantYouToKnow.com.