Biological conundrum reveals the evolutionary power of natural selection

"A new pattern of antibiotic resistance that is spreading around the globe may soon leve us defenseless against a frighteningly wide range of dangerous bacterial infections."


Bacterial Resistance

"THE END of the antibiotic miracle is not a new theme. For as long as there have been antibiotics, there has been antibiotic resistance: the first penicillin resistant bacteria surfaced before penicillin was even released to the marketplace in the 1940s."

methicillin resistance in the 1980s and vancomycin resistance in the 1990s.

p. 48.

"With no new medications in the pipeline capable of dispatching these latest superbugs, we may have to live with the risk of untreatable infections for an uncomfortably long time."

"The 83 year battle between bacteria and the drugs created to kill them . . . .For almost every antibiotic developed to date, bacteria have evolved a resistance factor that protects them from the drug's attack. For almost every resistance factor, pharmaceutical companies have produced a tougher new drug–until now."

"Bacteria all have evolution on their side."

–"It takes them about twenty minutes to produce a new generation. It takes a decade or more to research and develop a new drug."

p. 50.

"Typically a few bacteria with random fortunate mutations survive an antibiotic's attack. They reproduce, filling in the living space that the antibiotic cleared for them by killing their susceptible brethren and passing on the genes that protected them."

"But resistance does not spread only via inheritance. By exchanging pieces of DNA, bacteria can acquire resistance without ever having been exposed to the drug genes protect against."

p. 50.

Maryn Mckenna,"The Enemy Within," Scientific American. April 2011, pp. 47-53.

"The deadly source
The bacterial trafficking in genes is so common that antibiotic expert Stuart Levy writes that "the entire bacterial world can be thought of as one huge multicellular organism in which the cells interchange their genes with ease."


conundrum, a confusing, particularly difficult, or challenging problem; hard question. [English 16th & 17th century].

"filling in the living space," ecology: the relation of organisms or species to their surrounding conditions of life.