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Evol Appl. 2015 Mar;8(3):211-22. doi: 10.1111/eva.12254. Epub 2015 Mar 23.

Fighting microbial drug resistance: a primer on the role of evolutionary biology in public health.

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Department of Biology, Bard College Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, USA.
Department of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO, USA.
Department of Biology, San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA, USA.
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago Chicago, IL, USA.


Although microbes have been evolving resistance to antimicrobials for millennia, the spread of resistance in pathogen populations calls for the development of new drugs and treatment strategies. We propose that successful, long-term resistance management requires a better understanding of how resistance evolves in the first place. This is an opportunity for evolutionary biologists to engage in public health, a collaboration that has substantial precedent. Resistance evolution has been an important tool for developing and testing evolutionary theory, especially theory related to the genetic basis of new traits and constraints on adaptation. The present era is no exception. The articles in this issue highlight the breadth of current research on resistance evolution and also its challenges. In this introduction, we review the conceptual advances that have been achieved from studying resistance evolution and describe a path forward.


HIV; adaptation; antibiotic resistance; ecology; epidemiology; experimental evolution; genomics; malaria; population genetics

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