Antibiotic resistance evolution is studied

April 11, 2006

Harvard University scientists say Darwinian evolution follows very few of the available mutational pathways to attain fitter proteins.

The study involved a gene whose mutant form increases bacterial resistance to a widely prescribed antibiotic by a factor of roughly 100,000.

The researchers' work indicates that of 120 five-step mutational paths that theoretically could grant antibiotic resistance, only about 10 actually endow bacteria with a meaningful evolutionary advantage.

"Just as there are many alternate routes one might follow in driving from Boston to New York, one intrinsic property of DNA is that very many distinct mutational paths link any two variants of a gene," said lead author Daniel Weinreich, a research associate in Harvard's department of organismic and evolutionary biology.

"Although this fact has been recognized for at least 35 years, its implications for evolution by natural selection have remained unexplored," Weinreich said. "Specifically, it is of great interest to determine whether natural selection regards these many mutational paths equivalently."

The research is detailed in the journal Science.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Bacteria show surprising number of genetic paths to survival

Related Stories

Bacteria show surprising number of genetic paths to survival

December 13, 2013

(Phys.org) —A boy with cystic fibrosis develops a chronic and potentially deadly Burkholderia dolosa infection in his lungs. Varieties of genetic mutations allow some strains of the bacteria to survive the dual assaults ...

Scientists reverse bacterial resistance to antibiotics

May 6, 2015

The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a growing problem in the United States and the world. New findings by researchers in evolutionary biology and mathematics could help doctors better address the problem in a clinical ...

Detour leads to antibiotic resistance

March 28, 2014

Ludwig Maximilian University researchers have used cryo-electron microscopic imaging to characterize the structural alterations in the bacterial ribosome that are required for induction of resistance to the antibiotic erythromycin.

Different paths to drug resistance in Leishmania

October 27, 2011

Two remarkable discoveries were today revealed by researchers into genome analysis of Leishmania parasites. These results uncovered a surprising level of variation at the genome structure level.

Recommended for you

Seals help plug Antarctic water mystery

August 24, 2016

Elephant seals have helped scientists to demonstrate that fresh water from Antarctic's melting ice shelves slows the processes responsible for the formation of deep-water ocean currents that regulate global temperatures.

LiH mediates low-temperature ammonia synthesis

August 24, 2016

Nearly half of the world's population is fed by industrial N2 fixation, i. e., the Harbor-Bosch process. Although exergonic in nature, NH3 synthesis from N2 and H2 catalyzed by the fused Fe has to be conducted at elevated ...

Selecting the right house plant could improve indoor air

August 24, 2016

Indoor air pollution is an important environmental threat to human health, leading to symptoms of "sick building syndrome." But researchers report that surrounding oneself with certain house plants could combat the potentially ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.