Predation and selection for antibiotic resistance in natural environments

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Genes encoding resistance to antibiotics appear, like the antibiotics themselves, to be ancient, originating long before the rise of the era of anthropogenic antibiotics. However, detailed understanding of the specific biological advantages of antibiotic resistance in natural environments is still lacking, thus limiting our efforts to prevent environmental influx of resistance genes. Here, we propose that antibiotic-resistant cells not only evade predation from antibiotic producers but also take advantage of nutrients released from cells that are killed by the antibiotic-producing bacteria. Thus, predation is potentially an important mechanism for driving antibiotic resistance during slow or stationary phase of growth when nutrients are deprived. This adds to explain the ancient nature and widespread occurrence of antibiotic resistance in natural environments unaffected by anthropogenic antibiotics. In particular, we suggest that nutrient-poor environments including indoor environments, for example, clean rooms and intensive care units may serve as a reservoir and source for antibiotic-producing as well as antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEvolutionary Applications (Online)
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)427-434
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • antibiotic resistance, interference-based competition, nutrient limitation, predation, resource-based competition

ID: 161396295