Antibiotic use and abuse: A threat to mitochondria and chloroplasts with impact on research, health, and environment

Recently, several studies have demonstrated that tetracyclines, the antibiotics most intensively used in livestock and that are also widely applied in biomedical research, interrupt mitochondrial proteostasis and physiology in animals ranging from round worms, fruit flies, and mice to human cell lines. Importantly, plant chloroplasts, like their mitochondria, are also under certain conditions vulnerable to these and other antibiotics that are leached into our environment. Together these endosymbiotic organelles are not only essential for cellular and organismal homeostasis stricto sensu, but also have an important role to play in the sustainability of our ecosystem as they maintain the delicate balance between autotrophs and heterotrophs, which fix and utilize energy, respectively. Therefore, stricter policies on antibiotic usage are absolutely required as their use in research confounds experimental outcomes, and their uncontrolled applications in medicine and agriculture pose a significant threat to a balanced ecosystem and the well-being of these endosymbionts that are essential to sustain health.


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