Antibiotic resistance: turning evolutionary principles into clinical reality

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2020 Mar 1;44(2):171-188. doi: 10.1093/femsre/fuaa001.


Antibiotic resistance is one of the major challenges facing modern medicine worldwide. The past few decades have witnessed rapid progress in our understanding of the multiple factors that affect the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance at the population level and the level of the individual patient. However, the process of translating this progress into health policy and clinical practice has been slow. Here, we attempt to consolidate current knowledge about the evolution and ecology of antibiotic resistance into a roadmap for future research as well as clinical and environmental control of antibiotic resistance. At the population level, we examine emergence, transmission and dissemination of antibiotic resistance, and at the patient level, we examine adaptation involving bacterial physiology and host resilience. Finally, we describe new approaches and technologies for improving diagnosis and treatment and minimizing the spread of resistance.

Keywords: antibiotic resistance; evolution; new therapy; prevention; rapid diagnostics; transmission.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Bacterial Infections / transmission
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Humans
  • Preventive Medicine / trends*