In situ, in vivo and in vitro approaches for studying AMR plasmid conjugation in the gut microbiome
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global threat, with evolution and spread of resistance to frontline antibiotics outpacing the development of novel treatments. The spread of AMR is perpetuated by transfer of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) between bacteria, notably those encoded by conjugative plasmids. The human gut microbiome is a known ‘melting pot’ for plasmid conjugation, with ARG transfer in this environment widely documented. There is a need to better understand the factors affecting the incidence of these transfer events, and to investigate methods of potentially counteracting the spread of ARGs. This review describes the use and potential of three approaches to studying conjugation in the human gut: observation of in situ events in hospitalized patients, modelling of the microbiome in vivo predominantly in rodent models, and the use of in vitro models of various complexities.
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