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Front. Microbiol., 14 May 2013 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2013.00096

A brief multi-disciplinary review on antimicrobial resistance in medicine and its linkage to the global environmental microbiota

L. Cantas1*, Syed Q. A. Shah1, L. M. Cavaco2, C. M. Manaia3, F. Walsh4, M. Popowska5, H. Garelick6, H. Bürgmann7 and H. Sørum1
  • 1Department of Food Safety and Infection Biology, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo, Norway
  • 2Research Group for Microbial Genomics and Antimicrobial Resistance, National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Kgs Lyngby, Denmark
  • 3Centro de Biotecnologia e Química Fina, Escola Superior de Biotecnologia, Centro Regional do Porto da Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Rua Dr. António Bernardino Almeida, Porto, Portugal
  • 4Bacteriology, Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil, Wädenswil, Switzerland
  • 5Department of Applied Microbiology, Institute of Microbiology, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
  • 6Department of Natural Sciences, Middlesex University, London, UK
  • 7Department of Surface Waters - Research and Management, Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science and Technology, Kastanienbaum, Switzerland

The discovery and introduction of antimicrobial agents to clinical medicine was one of the greatest medical triumphs of the 20th century that revolutionized the treatment of bacterial infections. However, the gradual emergence of populations of antimicrobial-resistant pathogenic bacteria resulting from use, misuse, and abuse of antimicrobials has today become a major global health concern. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes have been suggested to originate from environmental bacteria, as clinically relevant resistance genes have been detected on the chromosome of environmental bacteria. As only a few new antimicrobials have been developed in the last decade, the further evolution of resistance poses a serious threat to public health. Urgent measures are required not only to minimize the use of antimicrobials for prophylactic and therapeutic purposes but also to look for alternative strategies for the control of bacterial infections. This review examines the global picture of antimicrobial resistance, factors that favor its spread, strategies, and limitations for its control and the need for continuous training of all stake-holders i.e., medical, veterinary, public health, and other relevant professionals as well as human consumers, in the appropriate use of antimicrobial drugs.

Keywords: antimicrobial resistance, human and veterinary medicine, environment, soil, wastewater, resistance genes

Citation: Cantas L, Shah SQA, Cavaco LM, Manaia CM, Walsh F, Popowska M, Garelick H, Bürgmann H and Sørum H (2013) A brief multi-disciplinary review on antimicrobial resistance in medicine and its linkage to the global environmental microbiota. Front. Microbiol. 4:96. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00096

Received: 13 December 2012; Paper pending published: 04 January 2013;
Accepted: 04 April 2013; Published online: 14 May 2013.

Edited by:

Stefania Stefani, University of Catania, Italy

Reviewed by:

Aixin Yan, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Ingeborg M. Van Geijlswijk, Utrecht University, Netherlands

Copyright © 2013 Cantas, Shah, Cavaco, Manaia, Walsh, Popowska, Garelick, Bürgmann and Sørum. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: L. Cantas, Department of Food Safety and Infection Biology, Section for Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, PO Box 8146 Dep. NO-0033 Oslo, Norway. e-mail: leon.cantas@nvh.no