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Understanding antibiotic resistance
Understanding antibiotic resistance

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6 Summary

In this week you learned how bacteria acquire antibiotic resistance and how this resistance can rapidly spread, or evolve, in a population. You should now be able to explain how genetic mutations cause acquired antibiotic resistance and how these mutations can be inherited through binary fission.

You have also seen how horizontal gene transfer has an important role in transmitting antibiotic resistance to different bacterial types. Having seen how antibiotic resistance evolves to protect bacteria, you can now begin to speculate on how our use of antibiotics contributes to the rise of antibiotic resistance.

You should now be able to:

  • explain how genetic mutations can give rise to antibiotic resistance that can be inherited
  • describe the horizontal gene transfer mechanisms that allow antibiotic resistance to be transferred between bacteria
  • discuss how evolution and natural selection maintain antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

Next week you will discover how the mismanagement of antibiotics has increased the rate of resistance.

You are now half way through the course. The Open University would really appreciate your feedback and suggestions for future improvement in our optional end-of-course survey [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , which you will also have an opportunity to complete at the end of Week 8. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

You can now go to Week 5.