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Antibiotics 2015, 4(4), 567-604;

Co-Selection of Resistance to Antibiotics, Biocides and Heavy Metals, and Its Relevance to Foodborne Pathogens

Department of Bacteriology and Food Safety, Animal and Plant Health Agency (Weybridge), Woodham Lane, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Martin J. Woodward
Received: 10 August 2015 / Revised: 5 November 2015 / Accepted: 6 November 2015 / Published: 13 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Use of Antibiotics in Food-Producing Animals)
Full-Text   |   PDF [825 KB, uploaded 13 November 2015]


Concerns have been raised in recent years regarding co-selection for antibiotic resistance among bacteria exposed to biocides used as disinfectants, antiseptics and preservatives, and to heavy metals (particularly copper and zinc) used as growth promoters and therapeutic agents for some livestock species. There is indeed experimental and observational evidence that exposure to these non-antibiotic antimicrobial agents can induce or select for bacterial adaptations that result in decreased susceptibility to one or more antibiotics. This may occur via cellular mechanisms that are protective across multiple classes of antimicrobial agents or by selection of genetic determinants for resistance to non-antibiotic agents that are linked to genes for antibiotic resistance. There may also be relevant effects of these antimicrobial agents on bacterial community structure and via non-specific mechanisms such as mobilization of genetic elements or mutagenesis. Notably, some co-selective adaptations have adverse effects on fitness in the absence of a continued selective pressure. The present review examines the evidence for the significance of these phenomena, particularly in respect of bacterial zoonotic agents that commonly occur in livestock and that may be transmitted, directly or via the food chain, to human populations. View Full-Text
Keywords: biocide; heavy metal; antimicrobial resistance; zoonoses biocide; heavy metal; antimicrobial resistance; zoonoses
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Wales, A.D.; Davies, R.H. Co-Selection of Resistance to Antibiotics, Biocides and Heavy Metals, and Its Relevance to Foodborne Pathogens. Antibiotics 2015, 4, 567-604.

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