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Int J Med Microbiol. 2013 Aug;303(6-7):293-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmm.2013.02.004. Epub 2013 Mar 19.

Antibiotics and antibiotic resistance: a bitter fight against evolution.

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Centro Nacional de Biotecnología CNB, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas CSIC, Darwin 3, Campus de la Universidad Autónoma, Cantoblanco-Madrid 28049, Spain.


One of the most terrible consequences of Darwinian evolution is arguably the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance, which is becoming a serious menace to modern societies. While spontaneous mutation, recombination and horizontal gene transfer are recognized as the main causes of this notorious phenomenon; recent research has raised awareness that sub-lethal concentrations of antibiotics can also foster resistance as an undesirable side-effect. They can produce genetic changes by different ways, including a raise of free radicals within the cell, induction of error-prone DNA-polymerases mediated by SOS response, imbalanced nucleotide metabolism or affect directly DNA. In addition to certain environmental conditions, subinhibitory concentrations of antimicrobials may increase, even more, the mutagenic effect of antibiotics. Here, we review the state of knowledge on antibiotics as promoters of antibiotic resistance.


Antibiotics; Evolution; Mutations; Resistance; Subinhibitory concentration

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