Understanding antibiotic resistance
Understanding antibiotic resistance

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1 Antibiotic resistance mechanisms

Bacteria have evolved several sophisticated antibiotic resistance mechanisms. Figure 1 gives an overview of the major mechanisms by which bacteria become resistant to the action of antibiotics. Don’t worry if you don’t understand all of these terms, as they will be explained in the following sections.

A schematic diagram giving an overview of the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance.
Figure 1 An overview of the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance.

In this section you will look at the three main mechanisms of antibiotic resistance:

  • modifying the antibiotic target
  • destroying or modifying the antibiotic
  • preventing the antibiotic from reaching its target.

Although you will look at each of these mechanisms in turn, it is worth remembering that bacteria may use multiple resistance strategies simultaneously to survive exposure to antibiotics.

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