When is antibiotic resistance likely to spread or decline? What information do we need to predict this? We have been trying to get at these questions by studying (1) multivariate resistance phenotypes of natural and clinical isolates from around the world, (2) dynamics of plasmid transfer among isolates from patients at a hospital in Switzerland, (3) the impact of microbial communities from human faeces on resistance evolution in anaerobic fermentors. Results so far suggest the appearance and spread of resistance to a given antibiotic, and side-effects for other phenotypes that may be under selection, depend critically on interactions with other microbes.
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