Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Understanding antibiotic resistance
Understanding antibiotic resistance

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2 Antibiotics

Antibiotics are chemicals which kill bacteria, that is they are bactericidal, or inhibit bacterial growth, that is they are bacteriostatic. They are produced naturally by soil-living bacteria and fungi in order to stop rival bacteria competing for nutrients and other resources. Antibiotics specifically target bacteria – a characteristic that humans have exploited for their own advantage to manage infectious diseases.

Narrow spectrum antibiotics affect only a few bacterial types. Broad spectrum antibiotics affect a wider range of bacteria.

  • In Section 1 you learned about the different phases of bacterial growth. Most antibiotics target the exponential phase of growth. Can you suggest a reason for this?

  • The exponential phase is when bacterial cells are at their most active, continually growing, dividing and forming new cells. The various metabolic processes which underpin this period of growth – such as the synthesis of DNA/RNA, proteins and the cell wall – are good opportunities for antibiotics to disrupt and/or kill cells.

You will learn how antibiotics work in Week 2.