Antibiotic Resistance In Bacteria

The Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria
Bacterial infections are a leading cause of death all over the world, especially in children and the elderly, whose immune systems are not at their peak. The discovery of antibiotics in the 1940s provided doctors with a powerful weapon against harmful bacteria, often times by inhibiting their protein synthesis or cell wall formation. Within a few years of their use against certain bacteria, however, some antibiotics’ effectiveness began to decline. The relationship between MRSA bacteria and penicillin is one of many cases that demonstrate this. Within a decade of being used against MRSA, penicillin-resistant S. aureus strains became common in hospitals (Mayo Clinic). Because bacteria reproduce
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In vertical transmission, mutations in bacteria lead to mass antibiotic resistance in a colony. Penicillin works be disabling the assembly of the bacterium’s cell wall, causing it to become weak and eventually burst. Some bacteria, however, do not replicate correctly. If a bacterium if formed that carries a mutated gene that allows it to neutralize the effects of Penicillin, this mutated bacterium will most likely be one of the few to survive a Penicillin attack. Therefore, it will be one of the only ones available to reproduce and pass on its traits. As a result, more and more bacteria will be formed with these superior, mutated genes. Due to the fact that bacteria rapidly reproduce, (1 bacterium can become a colony of 1 billion individuals in the span of 10 hours) just 1 resistant bacterium is enough to generate an entire colony of antibiotic resistant bacteria (UC Berkeley).
Antibiotic resistance in bacteria can also be passed on via horizontal transmission. Bacteria have the ability to transfer their genes to one another through a process called conjugation. Bacterial conjugation can occur by direct cell-to-cell contact or through the formation of a bridge-like structure between two organisms. Even different species of bacteria can share DNA through conjugation. This means that even a bacterium that does not carry antibiotic resistance when formed can acquire such a trait from
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For this reason, many antibiotics that were once quite effective can no longer be used and are now obsolete. There are currently a limited number of well-studied drugs available on the market, and it often takes decades for researchers to determine whether a new antibiotic is effective and safe for use by the general public. Drug research is often extremely lengthy and expensive. Currently, the CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative is a proposed plan that would require a $264 million budget and “accelerate outbreak detection and prevention innovation, and improve antibiotic use and reduce antibiotic resistance” (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). This highlights how tremendously important it is to take preventive measures against resistance in bacteria, not only on a national scale, but on an individual level as

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