The (un-)predictability of antibiotic resistance

Condensed Matter lunchtime seminar

The (un-)predictability of antibiotic resistance

  • Event time: 1:00pm until 2:00pm
  • Event date: 11th February 2019
  • Speaker: Elin Lilja (Formerly School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details

The evolution and spread of bacterial resistance in response to antibiotic use is a global problem, which will have increasing health and economic costs in the future if measures are not taken to limit the spread of resistance. To be able to inform public health policies on how to use antibiotics in a way that cures infections and limits the spread of resistant bacteria we first need to be able to make predictions on how resistance emerges upon antibiotic exposure. 

In this talk I will consider the simple case of a single de novo point mutation that confers resistance to an antibiotic. I will discuss how the emergence of such mutations can be conveniently studied using a continuous-culture system in which bacteria are exposed to antibiotics in a controlled way, and their density and growth rate accurately measured over time. I will then show how the experimental results compare to a simple stochastic birth-death model of sensitive and resistant cells. Interestingly, while the model can accurately predict the emergence of resistance for some antibiotics, it completely fails for other antibiotics. I will discuss possible reasons behind this discrepancy.

About Condensed Matter lunchtime seminars

This is a weekly series of informal talks given primarily by members of the soft condensed matter and statistical mechanics groups, but is also open to members of other groups and external visitors. The aim of the series is to promote discussion and learning of various topics at a level suitable to the broad background of the group. Everyone is welcome to attend..

Find out more about Condensed Matter lunchtime seminars.