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Frontiers of Medicine >> 2017, Volume 11, Issue 2 doi: 10.1007/s11684-017-0531-x

The antibiotic resistome: gene flow in environments, animals and human beings

1. CAS Key Laboratory of Pathogenic Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.

. Beijing Key Laboratory of Microbial Drug Resistance and Resistome, Beijing 100101, China.

3. Collaborative Innovation Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, The First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310006, China.

4. Research Network of Immunity and Health (RNIH), Beijing Institutes of Life Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.

5. Office of Director-General, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), Beijing 102206, China

Available online: 2017-06-01

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The antibiotic resistance is natural in bacteria and predates the human use of antibiotics. Numerous antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) have been discovered to confer resistance to a wide range of antibiotics. The ARGs in natural environments are highly integrated and tightly regulated in specific bacterial metabolic networks. However, the antibiotic selection pressure conferred by the use of antibiotics in both human medicine and agriculture practice leads to a significant increase of antibiotic resistance and a steady accumulation of ARGs in bacteria. In this review, we summarized, with an emphasis on an ecological point of view, the important research progress regarding the collective ARGs (antibiotic resistome) in bacterial communities of natural environments, human and animals, i.e., in the one health settings. We propose that the resistance gene flow in nature is “from the natural environments” and “to the natural environments”; human and animals, as intermediate recipients and disseminators, contribute greatly to such a resistance gene “circulation.”

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