Antibiotics are generally used to both increase and accelerate the growth of livestock. However, a new publication by three members of our group – Juan Galarza, Liam Murphy and Johanna Mappes – finds that the growth benefits gained by antibiotic use may come costly.
In this study, moth larvae that were treated with growth-inducing antibiotics significantly down-regulated genes involved in immunity and up-regulated genes associated with growth. As a result, the larvae grew faster but compromised their immune system in doing so.
Global concerns over antibiotic use have mainly focused on antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains. Our research gives new insight on the relatively unknown mechanisms of growth-inducing antibiotics, and the potential trade-off between rapid growth and fully functioning immune system.
Article: Galarza JA, Murphy L, Mappes J. Antibiotics accelerate growth at the expense of immunity. Proc. R. Soc. B. 2021; 288: 20211819. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.1819