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Antibiotic Classes and Mechanisms of Resistance

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Definition of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are small molecules that stop bacterial growth or cause bacterial death, depending on concentration.

Synonyms for Antibiotics

Antibacterial agents; Antimicrobial agents; Bactericidal agent; Bacteriostatic agent


Since their discovery, antibiotics have helped millions of people overcome previously lethal bacterial infections, and these drugs are considered among the greatest of medical achievements. Both natural and synthetic antibiotics are used to treat or prevent bacterial infections in humans and domesticated animals. In animal husbandry, antibiotics are also used to promote rapid growth of the animal. Bacteria and fungi produce antibiotics to communicate with each other and to establish themselves in or to survive different ecological niches (Hibbing et al. 2010; Watve et al. 2001).

Antibiotics are small molecule compounds that vary widely in their structures (Fig. 1). The widespread use of these compounds has led to bacteria...


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Correspondence to Lynn Zechiedrich .

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© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York

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Carlson-Banning, K.M., Zechiedrich, L. (2013). Antibiotic Classes and Mechanisms of Resistance. In: Nelson, K. (eds) Encyclopedia of Metagenomics. Springer, New York, NY.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, New York, NY

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4614-6418-1

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