What is it about?

In hospitals, antibiotic resistance poses a serious threat, and certain bacteria are key players in spreading resistance genes. Think of these genes like instruction manuals for bacteria to resist antibiotics. Picture them being carried and shared by tiny carriers called plasmids. Now, there's a specific plasmid, pOXA-48, known for causing trouble globally. It can infect various bacteria, but it often teams up with specific Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria, creating a dangerous duo. We wanted to know why this happens and found that not all bacteria are equal in supporting pOXA-48. Klebsiella strains are like perfect partners for this plasmid, allowing it to spread more and make bacteria more resistant to antibiotics. Using experiments and math, we discovered that a small group of these Klebsiella bacteria, with a knack for resisting antibiotics and readily sharing the plasmid, play a big role in spreading the threat. This explains why pOXA-48 prefers to hang out with Klebsiella in hospitals. In simpler terms, it's like some bacteria and plasmids team up better than others, making antibiotic resistance a more significant concern in certain situations. Understanding these partnerships helps us tackle antibiotic resistance more effectively in hospital settings.

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Why is it important?

ChatGPT Understanding the specific partnerships between antibiotic-resistant plasmids and bacterial hosts, like the alliance between pOXA-48 and Klebsiella pneumoniae, is crucial for managing antibiotic resistance in hospitals. This knowledge allows healthcare professionals to anticipate and combat the spread of resistance more effectively. By pinpointing the bacterial strains that are more prone to carrying and sharing these resistance genes, we can develop targeted strategies to prevent their dissemination. This research helps in designing more precise interventions to safeguard patients in clinical settings, ultimately contributing to the ongoing battle against antibiotic-resistant infections and ensuring the efficacy of antibiotic treatments.


This study provides valuable insights into the dynamics of antibiotic resistance (AMR) evolution. By investigating the specific interactions between antibiotic resistance plasmids (such as pOXA-48) and bacterial hosts, researchers gain a deeper understanding of how these resistance traits spread in hospital environments. The identification of key bacterial strains that are more prone to carrying and sharing resistance genes allows for the prediction of potential hotspots for AMR development. The study's focus on species- and strain-specific variability in plasmid-associated traits, such as resistance levels and conjugation frequencies, contributes to a more nuanced understanding of AMR evolution. The development of a mathematical model further aids in predicting how certain bacterial clones, with high AMR levels and conjugation permissiveness, can significantly influence the distribution and stabilization of plasmids in microbial communities. This predictive capability is crucial for designing targeted interventions and surveillance strategies to curb the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistance in clinical settings.

Alvaro San Millan
Centro nacional de Biotecnología CSIC

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Antimicrobial resistance level and conjugation permissiveness shape plasmid distribution in clinical enterobacteria, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, December 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2314135120.
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