The emergence of drug-resistant pathogens is often considered a canonical case of evolution by natural selection. Here we argue that the strength of selection can be a poor predictor of the rate of resistance emergence. It is possible for a resistant strain to be under negative selection and still emerge in an infection or spread in a population. Measuring the right parameters is a necessary first step toward the development of evidence-based resistance-management strategies. We argue that it is the absolute fitness of the resistant strains that matters most and that a primary determinant of the absolute fitness of a resistant strain is the ecological context in which it finds itself.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases