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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2017 Aug;46:90-97. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2017.02.013. Epub 2017 Mar 11.

Toward a quantitative understanding of antibiotic resistance evolution.

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IST Austria, Am Campus 1, A-3400 Klosterneuburg, Austria.
IST Austria, Am Campus 1, A-3400 Klosterneuburg, Austria; University of Cologne, Zülpicher Str. 47a, D-50674 Cologne, Germany. Electronic address:


The rising prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria is an increasingly serious public health challenge. To address this problem, recent work ranging from clinical studies to theoretical modeling has provided valuable insights into the mechanisms of resistance, its emergence and spread, and ways to counteract it. A deeper understanding of the underlying dynamics of resistance evolution will require a combination of experimental and theoretical expertise from different disciplines and new technology for studying evolution in the laboratory. Here, we review recent advances in the quantitative understanding of the mechanisms and evolution of antibiotic resistance. We focus on key theoretical concepts and new technology that enables well-controlled experiments. We further highlight key challenges that can be met in the near future to ultimately develop effective strategies for combating resistance.

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