Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance in the Environment: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance in the Environment

1st Edition

By Carlos F. Amabile-Cuevas

CRC Press

126 pages

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pub: 2015-12-30
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The presence of antibiotics, antibiotic resistance genes, and antibiotic resistant bacteria in the environment (i.e., outside of clinical settings, such as antibiotic-treated patients or antibiotic-impregnated locations, such as hospitals) is a cause of growing worldwide concern, as it reveals the extensive impact of antibiotic abuse and other human-related pressures upon microbes. Also, the potential clinical and environmental impact of the presence of antibiotic resistance outside the obvious clinical settings is mostly unknown, but could be unexpectedly large, as resistance in clinical conditions can be seen as a very small "tip of the iceberg". The field of detecting and measuring resistance in the environment has rapidly evolved from mostly anecdotal reports at the end of the 1990s, to a systematic search of organisms and genes in a wide variety of settings, from ancient permafrost to migratory birds. This book will review the available evidence and hypotheses on where this resistance is coming from and for how long it has been there; what are the selective and maintenance pressures involved, and how is resistance spreading; what are the known and possible traits that are being selected and spread along with antibiotic resistance ones; what are the laboratory and in-silico strategies to look into this issue, and their advantages and disadvantages.


For readers with a basic background in biology, this book provides a very useful discussion of most aspects of this topic, including definitions of antibiotics and resistance, the mechanisms responsible for resistance, and the practices that contribute to this problem.

H. E. Pence, SUNY College at Oneonta, written in Choice Magazine (September 2016 issue)

Table of Contents

1 Definitions and Basic Concepts

1.1 Antibiotics: origins and activity

1.1.1 Origin and mechanism of action of main antibiotic classes

1.1.2 Antibiotics: chemical warfare, intercellular signaling, prebiotic remains?

1.2 Resistance: What it is and how we measure it

1.2.1 Resistance mechanisms, horizontal gene transfer, and adaptive responses Three main kinds of resistance: intrinsic, acquired, and adaptive Intrinsic resistance Acquired resistance Adaptive resistance: stress responses Adaptive resistance? Biofilms Co-selection: the plot thickens Inter-molecular gene mobilization: the gene “cut & paste’’ bacterial kit Horizontal gene transfer: the main means for resistance spread Transformation Transduction Conjugation

1.2.2 Detection of resistance in the environment

1.3 Environment

1.3.1 Urban environments

1.3.2 Rural environments

2 Have Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance Genes Always Been Out There?

2.1 Naturally-occurring antibiotics (and their respective resistance genes)

2.1.1 Known resistance genes from known antibiotic producers

2.2 Resistance genes of clinical relevance with known environmental origins

2.3 Resistance genes that were not “meant" for resistance

2.4 “Resistance" genes unrelated to antibiotics, and non-resistance genes of relevance

3 Human-Related Release of Antibiotics into the Environment

3.1 Agricultural use of antibiotics

3.2 Wastewater

3.2.1 Early release of antibiotics to the sewage

3.2.2 Along the way to treatment or final release

3.2.3 Wastewater treatment plants

3.2.4 Release from treatment plants

3.3 Soils

3.4 Non-antibiotic selective pressures: heavy metals, disinfectants, other drugs and biocides

4 Spread of Resistant Organisms from Human Settlements into the Environment

4.1 Clinical environments to urban environments to rural environments

4.1.1 Urban wastewater Wastewater treatment plants After treatment: release into water bodies

4.1.2 Resistance in soils

4.2 Resistant bacteria in animals

4.3 Organisms, genes, routes: more than “just’’ resistance

5 Impact of Antibiotics and Resistance in Non-Clinical Settings

5.1 Immediate risks

5.2 "Hotspots" for resistance selection and HGT-mediated rearrangements (Figure 5.2)

5.3 Ecological impact upon soil bacteria (Figure 5.3)

5.4 Potential ecological and clinical impact of resistance in wildlife (Figure 5.4)

5.5 Iceberg tips, known knowns, and unknown unknowns (Figure 5.5)

5.6 All this is very interesting but…

5.7 Concluding remarks

About the Author

C.F. Amábile-Cuevas (DSc, Pharmacology), has been an active researcher in different aspects of antibiotic resistance for the last 25 years. Aside from experimental work on resistance prevalence, underlying mechanisms, selection and spread in the environment; he has authored several reviews and divulgation papers, and has authored/edited five books on antibiotic resistance. CFA-C was a visiting scholar at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Harvard University; was Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the National University of Mexico; and is founder and director of Fundacion Lusara, a private research institution based at Mexico City, devoted to research and teaching on antibiotic resistance.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Immunology
SCIENCE / Environmental Science
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Biology / Microbiology
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Biology / Developmental Biology