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Antibiotics are substances that inhibit the growth of bacteria. They work by killing bacteria or preventing their reproduction, and may be synthesized chemically or by naturally-occurring or engineered organisms.
Some antibiotic resistance genes found in pathogenic bacteria might derive from antibiotic-producing actinobacteria. Here, Jiang et al. provide bioinformatic and experimental evidence supporting this hypothesis, and propose a specific mechanism for the transfer of these genes between bacterial phyla.
A gene has been identified that underpins the capacity of mycobacterial cells to divide to produce physiologically different daughter cells. This finding has implications for drug treatment of tuberculosis. See Letter p.153