Chapter 14 : Commensal Bacteria, Microbial Ecosystems, and Horizontal Gene Transmission: Adjusting Our Focus for Strategic Breakthroughs against Antibiotic Resistance

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This chapter describes the molecular mechanisms and major routes in the dissemination and persistence of foreign genes in microbial ecosystems. Emphasis is placed on commensal bacteria with respect to the emergence, circulation, and enrichment of antibiotic resistance (AR) in the natural environment, the food chain, and the animal or human host. For the microbial consortium, AR is nothing more than another trait offering a survival advantage in adverse environments. Therefore, improved understanding of the basic molecular mechanisms and critical control steps involved in horizontal gene transmission (HGT) in microbial ecosystems will shed light on the development of strategies for control of AR dissemination. Increasing evidence from recent ecological analyses indicates that certain bacteria might play more important roles than others in HGT in microbial ecosystems. Probiotics as a business has grown rapidly in the last couple of decades based on the belief that consumption of certain lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria is beneficial for the maintenance of a healthy gut microflora. Expanded coverage, particularly the quantitative assessment of the AR gene pools in commensal bacteria, could provide a more precise picture of the AR status in the environmental, food, animal, and human microbial ecosystems, enabling prediction of the forthcoming risks associated with AR in targeted pathogens.

Citation: Wang H. 2009. Commensal Bacteria, Microbial Ecosystems, and Horizontal Gene Transmission: Adjusting Our Focus for Strategic Breakthroughs against Antibiotic Resistance, p 267-281. In Jaykus L, Wang H, Schlesinger L (ed), Food-Borne Microbes. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815479.ch14
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