Collective resistance in microbial communities by intracellular antibiotic deactivation

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are on the rise and pose a serious threat to society. The influence of genetic resistance mechanisms on antibiotic therapy is well described. However, other factors, such as epigenetic resistance or the impact of the environment on antibiotic therapy, are less well understood. Here, we describe and characterize a mechanism of noninherited antibiotic resistance that enables the survival and outgrowth of genetically susceptible bacteria during antibiotic therapy. We show that bacteria expressing the resistance factor chloramphenicol (Cm) acetyltransferase (CAT) can potently deactivate Cm in their immediate environment.

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