Journal Article

Resistance in the environment

K. Kümmerer

in Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Published on behalf of British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Volume 54, issue 2, pages 311-320
Published in print August 2004 | ISSN: 0305-7453
Published online August 2004 | e-ISSN: 1460-2091 | DOI:
Resistance in the environment

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  • Medical Oncology
  • Critical Care


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Antibiotics, disinfectants and bacteria resistant to them have been detected in environmental compartments such as waste water, surface water, ground water, sediments and soils. Antibiotics are released into the environment after their use in medicine, veterinary medicine and their employment as growth promoters in animal husbandry, fish farming and other fields. There is increasing concern about the growing resistance of pathogenic bacteria in the environment, and their ecotoxic effects. Increasingly, antibiotic resistance is seen as an ecological problem. This includes both the ecology of resistance genes and that of the resistant bacteria themselves. Little is known about the effects of subinhibitory concentrations of antibiotics and disinfectants on environmental bacteria, especially with respect to resistance. According to the present state of our knowledge, the impact on the frequency of resistance transfer by antibacterials present in the environment is questionable. The input of resistant bacteria into the environment seems to be an important source of resistance in the environment. The possible impact of resistant bacteria on the environment is not yet known. Further research into these issues is warranted.

Keywords: environmental microbiology; gene transfer; ecotoxicity; xenobiotics

Journal Article.  8949 words. 

Subjects: Medical Oncology ; Critical Care

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