Research highlight

Evolution of drug resistance

Nature Genetics

December 19, 2011

Whole-genome sequencing of E. coli strains as they acquire drug resistance over a time course of antibiotic treatment is reported this week in Nature Genetics. These experiments were conducted using a newly developed laboratory microbial culture device, which allows for the monitoring in real-time of the genomic evolution of drug resistance in bacterial populations. Roy Kishony and colleagues report the development of the ‘morbidostat’, a device that allows for automated evolution experiments over extended timescales. Moreover, the morbidostat allows for a more realistic laboratory model for the evolution of resistance, by monitoring bacterial growth and adjusting drug concentrations to provide a constant selective pressure. Using the morbidostat, the authors examine the evolution of drug resistance in E. coli populations under selection with one of several single drugs. They sequenced the whole genomes of initial drug sensitive E. coli and bacteria isolated from over a time course of up to 25 days under drug selection. They identify new drug resistance conferring mutations, as well as insights into the order and path of mutations in the evolution of resistance.

doi: 10.1038/ng.1034

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