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Evolution by Any Other Name: Antibiotic Resistance and Avoidance of the E-Word

  • Janis Antonovics mail,

    To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:

  • Jessica L Abbate,
  • Christi Howell Baker,
  • Douglas Daley,
  • Michael E Hood,
  • Christina E Jenkins,
  • Louise J Johnson,
  • James J Murray,
  • Vijay Panjeti,
  • Volker H. W Rudolf,
  • Dan Sloan,
  • Joanna Vondrasek
  • Published: February 13, 2007
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0050030

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Emergance vs. evolution

Posted by plosbiology on 07 May 2009 at 22:15 GMT

Author: June Scott
Position: Professor, Microbiology and Immunology
Institution: Emory U
Submitted Date: March 01, 2007
Published Date: March 2, 2007
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

The authors do not seem to distinguish the application of these to terms to bacteria, in which antibiotic resistance can be said to " evolve", vs the resistance elements themselves, which usually remain the same, but "emerge" in new bacteria and "spread" to others. Is it possible that the use in the medical literature examined refers not to the evolving bacteria but to the spreading (horizontal transfer) of resistance elements? The genetic literature, on the other hand, probably refers more often to the changes in the bacterial genomes, which "evolve" by the "acquisition" of these (unchanged) elements.

No competing interests declared.