Editor: Eduardo Rocha
Side effects of antibiotics on genetic variability
Article first published online: 26 FEB 2009
© 2009 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved
FEMS Microbiology Reviews
Special Issue: Genome Dynamics
Volume 33, Issue 3, pages 531–538, May 2009
How to Cite
Couce, A. and Blázquez, J. (2009), Side effects of antibiotics on genetic variability. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 33: 531–538. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2009.00165.x
- Issue published online: 6 APR 2009
- Article first published online: 26 FEB 2009
- Received 23 October 2008; revised 20 January 2009; accepted 20 January 2009.First published online 26 February 2009.
- antibiotic resistance;
- horizontal gene transfer;
- subinhibitory antibiotic concentrations;
In recent years, there has been accumulating evidence that antibiotics, besides their antimicrobial action, potentially have a number of undesired side effects that can, at least in some cases, promote genetic variability of bacteria. In addition to resistant variants, antibiotics have also been shown to select mutator clones, thus stimulating evolution towards further resistance. Furthermore, mutations, recombination and horizontal gene transfer have been reported to be somehow affected when bacteria are exposed to subinhibitory concentrations of certain antibiotics. These findings may have implications for the use of antibiotics, because they may have undesired side effects, such as enhancing antibiotic resistance evolution. Here we present data supporting (or not) this fearsome possibility and discuss whether this potential threat should be taken into consideration.