The Prehistory of Antibiotic Resistance Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Antibiotic resistance is a global problem that is reaching crisis levels. The global collection of resistance genes in clinical and environmental samples is the antibiotic "resistome," and is subject to the selective pressure of human activity. The origin of many modern resistance genes in pathogens is likely environmental bacteria, including antibiotic producing organisms that have existed for millennia. Recent work has uncovered resistance in ancient permafrost, isolated caves, and in human specimens preserved for hundreds of years. Together with bioinformatic analyses on modern-day sequences, these studies predict an ancient origin of resistance that long precedes the use of antibiotics in the clinic. Understanding the history of antibiotic resistance is important in predicting its future evolution.

publication date

  • June 2016