Author(s): Salyers AA, Shoemaker NB
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Abstract Investigations of antibiotic-resistance gene transfer elements in Bacteroides species have generated some new insights into how bacteria transfer resistance genes and what environmental conditions foster gene transfer. Integrated gene transfer elements, called conjugative transposons, appear to be responsible for much of the transfer of resistance genes among Bacteroides species. Conjugative transposons not only transfer themselves but also mobilize coresident plasmids and excise and mobilize unlinked integrated elements. Less is known about resistance gene transfer elements of the gram-positive anaerobes, but there are some indications that similar elements may be found in them as well. An unusual feature of the Bacteroides conjugative transposons is that transfer of many of them is stimulated considerably by low concentrations of antibiotics. Thus, antibiotics not only select for resistant strains but also can stimulate transfer of the resistance gene in the first place. This finding raises questions about whether use of low-dose tetracycline therapy may have a greater effect on the resident microflora than had been previously thought. Finally, investigations of resistance genes in Bacteroides species and other genera of bacteria have begun to provide evidence that the resident microflora of the human body does indeed act as a reservoir for resistance genes, which may be acquired from and passed on the transient colonizers of the site.
This article was published in Clin Infect Dis
and referenced in Journal of Bacteriology & Parasitology