Evolution

Antibiotic Resistance

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Does Antibiotic Resistance Show Evolution?

What is antibiotic resistance? It most often occurs in hospitals. Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics making it difficult to treat infections. The CDC defines it this way: "Antibiotic resistance happens when germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. That means the germs are not killed and continue to grow."

Does Antibiotic Resistance Show Evolution Happening?

No. Although it appears the bacteria has improved, since it is not killed by the antibiotic, in most cases it has gone downhill. The bacteria has become weaker. But, in this case the resistance to the antibiotic has resulted from something in the bacteria breaking. Here is the rest of the story: in order to resist the antibiotic, the bacteria has lost some of it's abilities. Yes, there has been a benefit. But that short-term benefit has come at the expense of becoming weaker in the long-term. In some cases (depending on the individual situation), the cure the doctor will "prescribe" is for the patient to get out of the hospital... go home. Once the patient gets away from the environment in which the mutated (antibiotic resistant) bacteria thrive, the weaker mutated bacteria will die off. This is not to say antibiotic resistance is not a serious problem, but what it does show is that antibiotic resistance IS NOT evolution. In many cases the bacteria has lost capabilities; has lost information; and is overall weaker. That's not evolution!


I've made a lot of assertions, but are they true? Yes. Here is an example. Proteins, food, and other materials need to get inside the cell in order for the cell to have the materials it needs to survive. The cell is very selective in what it transports through it's outer layer. One way some antibiotics work is by getting inside the bacteria, and poisoning the bacteria. However, if the bacteria cell mutates such that it no longer transports the antibiotic through the cell wall, the bacteria is resistant to the antibiotic. How was that accomplished? The bacteria lost the ability to do something it could do in the past. It has gone downhill.

Here's an example the involves an increase of information: Sections of DNA can be shared. A bacteria can add information to its DNA, that it gets from another organism. The DNA segment that is added provides information that make it resistant to an antibiotic. Aha! That's an increase in information! That IS evolution! No. evolution requires NEW information. This is an example of existing information being used by a different organism. So it's not an example of evolution.

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