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Infect Drug Resist. 2014 Jun 20;7:167-76. doi: 10.2147/IDR.S48820. eCollection 2014.

Horizontal gene transfer in the human gastrointestinal tract: potential spread of antibiotic resistance genes.

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Biology Department, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX, USA.


Bacterial infections are becoming increasingly difficult to treat due to widespread antibiotic resistance among pathogens. This review aims to give an overview of the major horizontal transfer mechanisms and their evolution and then demonstrate the human lower gastrointestinal tract as an environment in which horizontal gene transfer of resistance determinants occurs. Finally, implications for antibiotic usage and the development of resistant infections and persistence of antibiotic resistance genes in populations as a result of horizontal gene transfer in the large intestine will be discussed.


conjugation; gut microbiome; natural transformation; transduction

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