The Survival of R-Plasmids in the Absence of Antibiotic Selection Pressure

  • M. H. Richmond
Part of the Topics in Infectious Diseases book series (TIDIS, volume 2)


There is now no doubt that antibiotic use favours the emergence of resistant bacterial populations (1). This can be seen both on a worldwide scale, where the introduction of a novel antibiotic is frequently followed by the appearance of bacteria resistant to that agent, and also in individual human beings, where a therapeutic course of an antibiotic commonly results in the conversion of the bacterial population in the person’s alimentary tract to a resistant state. As examples, Fig. 1 shows the emergence of hospital strains of Staphylococcus aureus resistant to benzyl penicillin in the years immediately following the introduction of that antibiotic into clinical use in 1946 (ref. 2). On the other hand, Fig. 2 shows the effect of a therapeutic course of tetracycline on the resistance of the gut coliforms in the person under treatment (3, 4). In both cases, the use of the antibiotic encourages the resistant bacteria to outgrow the sensitive, with a resulting change in the properties of the population.


Urinary Tract Infection Resistant Bacterium Antibiotic Resistant Bacterium Faecal Flora Chicken Carcass 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Anderson, E. S.: The ecology of transferable drug resistance in the Enterobacteria. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 22, 131–180 (1968).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Munch-Petersen, E., Boundy, C.: Yearly incidence of penicillin-resistant Staphylococci in man since 1942. Ball. Wld. Hlth. Org. 26, 241–253 (1962).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Smith, H. W.: The effect of the use of antibacterial drugs on the emergence of drug resistant bacteria in animals. Adv. Vet. Sci. 15, 67–100 (1971).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Richmond, M. H.: R-factors in Man. In: Microbiology–1974, pp. 27–35. Washington, D.C.: American Society for Microbiology: 1975.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Richmond, M. H.: Some environmental consequences of the use of antibiotics. J. Appl. Bact. 35, 155–176 (1973).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Datta, N.: Drug resistance and R-factors in bowel bacteria of London patients before and after admission to hospital. Br. med. J. 11, 407–411 (1969).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cooke, E. M.: Escherichia coli and Man. Edinburgh and London: J. & A. Churchill (1974).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hartley, C. L., Richmond, M. H.: Antibiotic resistance and the survival of E. coli in the alimentary tract. Br. med. J. iv, 71–74 (1975).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Petrocheilou, V., Grinsted, J., Richmond, M. H.: R-plasmid transfer in vivo in the absence of antibiotic selection pressure. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 10, 753–761 (1976).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Petrocheilou, V., Richmond, M. H., Grinsted, J.: Spread of a single plasmid clone to an untreated person receiving prolonged tetracycline therapy. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother, (submitted for publication).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Anderson, J. D.: The effect of R-factor carriage on the survival of E. coli in the human intestine. J. med. Microbiol. 7, 85–90 (1974).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Lacey, R. W.: A critical appraisal of the importance of the R-factors in the enterobacteriaceae in vivo. J. antimicrob. Chemother. 1, 25–37 (1975).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hartley, C. L., Howe, K., Linton, A. H., Linton, K. B., Richmond, M. H.: The distribution of R-plasmids among 0-antigen types of Escherichia coli isolated from human and animal sources. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 8, 122–131 (1975).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wiedemann, B., Knothe, H.: Untersuchungen über die Stabilität der Koliflora des gesunden Menschen. I. Ober das Vorkommen permanenter und passanter Typen. Arch. Hyg. 4, 342–348 (1969).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Brumfitt, W., Faiers, M. C., Reeves, D. S., Datta, N.: Antibiotic resistant Escherichia coli causing urinary tract infection in general practice: relation to faecal flora. Lancet 1, 315–317 (1971).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Smith H. W.: Persistence of tetracycline resistance in pig E. coli. Nature 258, 628–630 (1975).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Swann, M.: Report of the Joint Committee on the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry and veterinary medicine. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office: 1969.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Jones, G. W., Rutter, J. M.: Role of the K88 antigen in the pathogenesis of neonatal diarrhea caused by Escherichia coli in piglets. Infection and Immunity, 6, 918–927.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Orskov, I., Orskov, F., Smith, H. W., Sojka, W. J.: The establishment of K99, a thermolabile Escherichia coli K antigen, previously called “Kco”, possessed by calf and lamb enteropathogenic strains. Acta Microbiol. Pathol. Scand. ser. B, 83, 31–36 (1975).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Duguid, J. P., Anderson, E. S., Campbell, I.: Fimbriae and adhesive properties in Salmonellae. J. Pathol. Bacteriol. 92, 107–138 (1968).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. H. Richmond

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations