Collective antibiotic tolerance: mechanisms, dynamics and intervention.


Journal Article (Review)

Bacteria have developed resistance against every antibiotic at a rate that is alarming considering the timescale at which new antibiotics are developed. Thus, there is a critical need to use antibiotics more effectively, extend the shelf life of existing antibiotics and minimize their side effects. This requires understanding the mechanisms underlying bacterial drug responses. Past studies have focused on survival in the presence of antibiotics by individual cells, as genetic mutants or persisters. Also important, however, is the fact that a population of bacterial cells can collectively survive antibiotic treatments lethal to individual cells. This tolerance can arise by diverse mechanisms, including resistance-conferring enzyme production, titration-mediated bistable growth inhibition, swarming and interpopulation interactions. These strategies can enable rapid population recovery after antibiotic treatment and provide a time window during which otherwise susceptible bacteria can acquire inheritable genetic resistance. Here, we emphasize the potential for targeting collective antibiotic tolerance behaviors as an antibacterial treatment strategy.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Meredith, HR; Srimani, JK; Lee, AJ; Lopatkin, AJ; You, L

Published Date

  • March 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 11 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 182 - 188

PubMed ID

  • 25689336

Pubmed Central ID

  • 25689336

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1552-4469

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1552-4450

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/nchembio.1754


  • eng