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There is no evidence for the eyes that do not want to see but for the determined and eager heart willing to learn and understand

Having always worked in the veterinary field, I had never seriously considered the potential role that antimicrobial-resistant bacteria released to the environment by livestock could play in plant health status.

In fact, I had no notion whether the use of antibiotics for crop protection was significantly widespread or what legal framework, if any, applied to the issue within the European Union (E.U.), the United States of America (U.S.), and other developed countries.

Having observed that streptomycin and tetracycline (1) have been two of the molecules of choice in agriculture for decades and noticing the lack of E.U. and U.S. federal legislation concerning these substances, including banning them for this purpose, I realized that a more global explanation of the origin of the growing resistance of some animal and human microbes relating to the effects of malpractice in agriculture on veterinary therapeutics and human medicine treatments was necessary.

These thoughts led me down paths that had little to do with my original idea as I wondered whether any of the plant bacterial pathogenic species would equally be capable of affecting vertebrate animals and humans.

I checked various lists of the major causative agents of plant diseases and reached a startling conclusion: some microorganisms are responsible for infections and morbid processes in both the vegetable and animal kingdoms, derived from their similar molecular basis and mechanisms of pathogenesis. That is the case for different Gram-negative rods, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cepacia, as well as the Deuteromycete fungus Aspergillus niger (Table 1), demonstrating that flora and fauna, including humans, represent not separate, independent worlds but two interacting sides of the same reality.

These shared pathogenic conditions whose connections were never studied in a comprehen-sive way also generate a more complex topic: a new term must be coined for infections that living plants, and not merely stored vegetable by-products or contaminated decomposing matter, can pass to vertebrate animals and humans acting as bioconcentrators and biomagnifiers.

According to the World Health Organization, zoonosis [Gr. ζoν (animal) + νóσoζ (disease)] (1959) and anthropozoonosis [Gr. άνθρωπo (man) + ζoν (animal) + νóσoζ (disease)] can be defined as any disease and/or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans. Rudolf Virchow (1821–1902) conceived the word in the 19th century, more than 150 years ago, when he was investigating several aspects of Trichinella.

Unfortunately, the previously described examples represent a new concept of global infection for which a new name must be proposed or suggested, an acceptable etymological contribution being "panosis" [Gr. παν (all/inclusive/encompassing) + νóσoζ (disease)] as a synonym for anthropozoophytonosis [Gr. άνθρωπo (man) + ζoν (animal) + φυτóν (plant) + νóσoζ (disease)] if direct and equivalent to phytozooanthroponosis for the reverse. Perhaps this is the missing link in an overall approach to the matter that may open a door to novel possibilities in systematically researching this model that has remained unexplored until the present, becoming a source of unpredictable challenges.


Eduardo E. Respaldiza
Bacteriology Department
Madrid Regional Veterinary Laboratory
Ctra. Guadalix de la Sierra Km. 1,800
Colmenar Viejo
Madrid 28770



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Organización Panamericana de la Salud Washington - Washington - United States