Understanding antibiotic resistance
Understanding antibiotic resistance

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Understanding antibiotic resistance

1 How do mutations lead to resistance?

A bacterium can acquire antibiotic resistance through genetic mutations which are permanent changes in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence that makes up a gene. Perhaps the best example of acquisition of resistance by mutation is Mycobacterium tuberculosis where resistance to all therapeutic agents is caused by mutation.

So how does altering the sequence of a bacteria’s DNA result in antibiotic resistance? The answer lies in how genetic information, encoded by DNA, is converted into proteins which are required for the structure and function of bacteria.

Optional activity: What do genes do?

If you are unfamiliar with the terms DNA, RNA, base pair, gene, amino acid or protein, you may want to try our free OpenLearn course What do genes do? [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] before you begin the following sections.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus