The emergence of resistance to all classes of antibiotics in previously susceptible bacterial pathogens is a major challenge to infectious disease medicine. The origin of the genes associated with resistance has long been a mystery. There is a growing body of evidence that is demonstrating that environmental microbes are highly drug resistant. The genes that make up this environmental resistome have the potential to be transferred to pathogens and indeed there is some evidence that at least some clinically relevant resistance genes have originated in environmental microbes. Understanding the extent of the environmental resistome and its mobilization into pathogenic bacteria is essential for the management and discovery of antibiotics.
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