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The resistome is a proposed expression by Gerard D. Wright[1] for the collection of all the antibiotic resistance genes and their precursors in both pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria.

This complete set of antibiotic resistance genes is composed of four different types of genes:

  1. Resistance genes found on pathogenic bacteria. These are the fewest but also the most problematic ones at present.
  2. Resistance genes found on antibiotic producers. The microorganisms such as soil-dwelling bacteria and fungi that naturally produce antibiotics have their own protection mechanisms[2] to avoid the adverse effects of the antibiotics on themselves. The genes which code for these resistances are a strong source[3] for the pathogenic bacteria.
  3. Cryptic resistance genes. These genes are embedded in the bacterial chromosome but do not obviously confer resistance, because their level of expression is usually low or they are not expressed.[4]
  4. Precursor genes. These genes do not confer antibiotic resistance. However they encode proteins that confer to some kind of basal level activity against the antibiotic molecule or have affinity to the molecule. In both cases this interaction may evolve to a full resistance gene given the appropriate selection pressure.

Note that these groups are not independent, and some overlapping is expected between them.


  1. ^ Wright GD (March 2007). "The antibiotic resistome: the nexus of chemical and genetic diversity". Nature Reviews Microbiology. 5 (3): 175–186. doi:10.1038/nrmicro1614.
  2. ^ Cundliffe E (1989). "How antibiotic-producing organisms avoid suicide". Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 43: 207–233. doi:10.1146/annurev.mi.43.100189.001231. PMID 2679354.
  3. ^ Benveniste R, Davies J (1973). "Aminoglycoside antibioticinactivating enzymes in actinomycetes similar to those present in clinical isolates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 70 (8): 2276–2280. doi:10.1073/pnas.70.8.2276. PMC 433717. PMID 4209515.
  4. ^ Crofts TS, Gasparrini AJ, Dantas G (2017). "Next-generation approaches to understand and combat the antibiotic resistome". Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 15 (7): 422–434. doi:10.1038/nrmicro.2017.28. PMC 5681478. PMID 28392565.