Bacteriophages as vehicles of the resistome in cystic fibrosis

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2011 Nov;66(11):2444-7. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkr318. Epub 2011 Aug 4.


Environmental microbial communities and human microbiota represent a huge reservoir of mobilizable genes, the 'mobilome', including a pool of genes encoding antimicrobial resistance, the 'resistome'. Whole-genome sequencing of bacterial genomes from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients has demonstrated that bacteriophages contribute significantly to bacterial genome alterations, and metagenomic analysis of respiratory tract DNA viral communities has revealed the presence of genes encoding antimicrobial resistance in bacteriophages of CF patients. CF airways should now be considered as the site of complex microbiota, where bacteriophages are vehicles for the adaptation of bacteria to this specific environment and for the emergence and selection of multidrug-resistant bacteria with chimeric repertoires. As phages are already known to be mobilized during chronic infection of the lungs of patients with CF, it seems particularly important to improve the understanding of the mechanisms of phage induction to prevent the spread of virulence and/or antimicrobial resistance determinants within the CF population as well as in the community. Such a modern point of view may be a seminal reflection for clinical practice in the future since current antimicrobial therapy guidelines in the context of CF may lead to the emergence of genes encoding antimicrobial resistance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteriophages / genetics*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Metagenome / genetics


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents