Resist or perish: Fate of a microbial population subjected to a periodic presence of antimicrobial

L. Marrec , A.F. Bitbol

Bibtex , URL
PLOS Computational Biology, 16, 04, 1-19
Published 20 Apr. 2020
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1007798


Antimicrobials select for resistance, which threatens to make antimicrobials useless. Understanding the evolution of antimicrobial resistance is therefore of crucial importance. Under what circumstances are microbial populations eradicated by antimicrobials? Conversely, when are they rescued by resistance? We address these questions employing a stochastic model that incorporates variations of both population composition and size. We consider periodic alternations of absence and presence of antimicrobial, which may model a treatment. We find a threshold period above which the first phase with antimicrobial fully determines the fate of the population. Faster alternations strongly select for resistance, and are inefficient to eradicate the microbial population, unless the death rate induced by the treatment is large enough. For longer alternation periods, we calculate the probability that the microbial population gets eradicated. We further demonstrate the different merits of biostatic antimicrobials, which prevent sensitive microbes from dividing, and of biocidal ones, which kill sensitive microbes.

Cette publication est associée à :

Dynamique stochastique des systèmes réactifs et vivants