Nature Reviews Microbiology 8, 251-259 (April 2010) | doi:10.1038/nrmicro2312

Focus on: Antimicrobial resistance

Call of the wild: antibiotic resistance genes in natural environments

Heather K. Allen1,2, Justin Donato1, Helena Huimi Wang3, Karen A. Cloud-Hansen1, Julian Davies3 & Jo Handelsman4  About the authors


Antibiotic-resistant pathogens are profoundly important to human health, but the environmental reservoirs of resistance determinants are poorly understood. The origins of antibiotic resistance in the environment is relevant to human health because of the increasing importance of zoonotic diseases as well as the need for predicting emerging resistant pathogens. This Review explores the presence and spread of antibiotic resistance in non-agricultural, non-clinical environments and demonstrates the need for more intensive investigation on this subject.

Author affiliations

  1. Departments of Bacteriology and Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  2. Microbiology Doctoral Training Program, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1550 Linden Dr., Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.
  3. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia, 2350 Health Sciences Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T1Z3, Canada.
  4. Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.

Correspondence to: Jo Handelsman4 Email:

Published online 1 March 2010


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