Abstracts (first author)
Antibiotic resistance among the killers
The discovery and development of antibiotics as part of the medical arsenal is one of the great triumphs in the effort to eradicate bacterial diseases. For more than 70 years these microbial products have worked with remarkable success, transforming the medical landscape and dramatically improving human health. However, despite their tremendous relevance for humans, there is a surprising lack of understanding of the role of antibiotics in nature for the organisms that produce them. Why are antibiotics produced and why do strains in nature evolve to resist them. Here we test the idea that antibiotic-mediated interference competition between coexisting bacterial species in soil drives reciprocal coevolutionary changes as strains evolve novel mechanisms of killing and resistance. Focusing on the prolific antibiotic producing genus, Streptomyces, and their coexisting competitors, we first characterize interaction networks between coexisting Streptomycetes and then ask whether antibiotic resistance shows evidence of local adaptation. Second, we are investigating the costs and in situ fitness of naturally resistant strains of Streptomyces in soil at different antibiotic concentrations and during co-cultivation with Streptomycetes that are natural antibiotic producers. Our work examines the natural context and population dynamics of resistance evolution, thereby providing insight into processes occurring in the clinical environment.