The fitness effects of a mutation can depend, sometimes dramatically, on genetic background; this phenomenon is often referred to as "epistasis." Epistasis can have important practical consequences in the context of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). For example, genetic background plays an important role in determining the costs of resistance, and hence in whether resistance will persist in the absence of antibiotic pressure. Furthermore, interactions between resistance mutations can have important implications for the evolution of multi-drug resistance. I argue that there is a need to better characterize the extent and nature of epistasis for mutations and horizontally transferred elements conferring AMR, particularly in clinical contexts. Furthermore, I suggest that epistasis should be an important consideration in attempts to slow or limit the evolution of AMR.

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Keywords Antimicrobial resistance, Compensatory evolution, Epistasis, Genetic interaction, Multi-drug resistance
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.00246
Journal Frontiers in Microbiology
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Citation
Wong, A. (2017). Epistasis and the evolution of antimicrobial resistance. Frontiers in Microbiology (Vol. 8). doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.00246