Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Antibiotic Resistance Is Not Evidence of Evolution, New Research Suggests

Yanomami Woman & Child. Image courtesy of C. Macauley, via Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

In popular literature, antibiotic resistance is often touted as evidence for evolution. However, a paper published in the journal Nature in 2011 stated:

"These results show conclusively that antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon that predates the modern selective pressure of clinical antibiotic use.”

The following year (2012), research published in the Journal PLoS ONE reached the same conclusion.

New research supports this view. A Nature news article states:

An isolated American Indian group in the Venezuelan Amazon hosts the most-diverse constellation of microbes ever discovered in humans, researchers reported on 17 April in Science Advances. Surprisingly, the group's microbiome includes bacteria with genes that confer antibiotic resistance — even though its members, part of the Yanomami tribe, are not thought to have been exposed to the drugs.”

So, when it comes to antibiotic resistance, it might be wise for researchers to avoid using the E-word.


Deng, Boer. 2015. Bacteria bonanza found in remote Amazon village. Nature news (17 April).