Bacterial Persisters Promote the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance Plasmids in the Gut


Antibiotic therapy of bacterial infections may fail either because the microbe becomes genetically resistant to the administered drug, or because it enters a slow growing antibiotic-tolerant state – a phenomenon known as ”persistence”.

A recent study led by Swiss researchers and involving Group Sellin at IMBIM, now finds that rare persister bacteria lodged in infected gut tissue can also act as a reservoir for antibiotic resistance plasmids. Upon termination of treatment, persisting bacteria remerge into the gut lumen and efficiently transfer resistance plasmids to other members of the gut microflora. Notably, oral vaccination could limit the numbers of persister bacteria found within the infected gut tissue and consequently also reduce the frequency of resistance plasmid transfer.

The findings are presented this week in the journal Nature:


Last modified: 2021-06-15