The importance of lag time extension in determining bacterial resistance to antibiotics†
It is widely appreciated that widespread antibiotic resistance has significantly reduced the utility of today's antibiotics. Many antibiotics now fail to cure infectious diseases, although they are classified as effective bactericidal agents based on antibiotic susceptibility tests. Here, via kinetic growth assays, we evaluated the effects of 12 commonly used antibiotics on the lag phase of a range of pure environmental isolates and of sludge bacterial communities with a high diversity. We show that an extended lag phase offers bacteria survival advantages and promotes regrowth upon the removal of antibiotics. By utilizing both lag phase extension and IC50, the killing efficiency of an antibiotic on a strain or a community can be easily revealed. Interestingly, for several strains of relevance to endemic nosocomial infections (e.g. Acinetobacter sp. and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and the diverse sludge communities, tetracycline and quinolone antibiotics are most likely to be resisted via extended lag phase. This discovery is significant from a clinical point view since underestimation of bacteria resistance can lead to the recurrence of diseases.
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