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Bacterial ecology, antibiotics and selection for virulence


David M. Wilkinson E-mail:


The evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria is well known. Here I describe possible mechanisms by which an increased rate of re-colonization of vertebrate guts by microbes caused by antibiotic use could lead to selection for increased virulence in currently mutualistic or benign microbes. The importance of understanding both the source and the frequency of colonization in such mutualisms is stressed and the possible importance of pseudo-vertical transmission in the evolution of these systems is discussed. A number of areas requiring experimental investigation are identified.