Mapping the exchange of genes between pathogens and nonpathogens offers new ways to understand and manage the spread of drug-resistant strains. In reality, the development of new antibiotics is only part of the solution, as pathogens will inevitably develop resistance to even the most promising new compounds. To save the era of antibiotics, scientists must figure out what it is about bacterial pathogens that makes resistance inevitable. Although most studies on drug resistance have focused on disease causing pathogens, recent efforts have shifted attention to the resistomes of nonpathogenic bacteria. Importantly, over the past decade advances in DNA sequencing have enabled researchers to explore the genomes of both pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria across a variety of different natural habitats. In transformation, bacterial cells scavenge DNA remnants from dead bacterial cells and integrate them into their own genome. In transduction, genetic material is transferred by bacteriophages.
American Scientist, 2014, Vol 102, Issue 1, p. 42-51