Bacterial gene amplification: implications for the evolution of antibiotic resistance

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2009 Aug;7(8):578-88. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2174.


Recent data suggest that, in response to the presence of antibiotics, gene duplication and amplification (GDA) constitutes an important adaptive mechanism in bacteria. For example, resistance to sulphonamide, trimethoprim and beta-lactams can be conferred by increased gene dosage through GDA of antibiotic hydrolytic enzymes, target enzymes or efflux pumps. Furthermore, most types of antibiotic resistance mechanism are deleterious in the absence of antibiotics, and these fitness costs can be ameliorated by increased gene dosage of limiting functions. In this Review, we highlight the dynamic properties of gene amplifications and describe how they can facilitate adaptive evolution in response to toxic drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Amplification*
  • Gene Duplication*
  • Genes, Bacterial / genetics*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents