Managing the emergence of pathogen resistance via spatially-targeted antimicrobial use.

Evolutionary Applications 2018,00:1-20.
Year of Publication: 
Okamoto, K.W., D.M. Post, D.A. Vasseur, and P.E. Turner..

From agriculture to public health to civil engineering, managing antimicrobial resistance presents a considerable challenge. The dynamics underlying resistance evolution reflect inherently spatial processes. Resistant pathogen strains increase in frequency when a strain that emerges in one locale can spread and replace pathogen subpopulations formerly sensitive to the antimicrobial agent. Moreover, the strength of selection for antimicrobial resistance is in part governed by the extent of antimicrobial use. Thus, altering how antimicrobials are used across a landscape can potentially shift the spatial context governing the dynamics of antimicrobial resistance and provide a potent management tool. Here, we model how the efficacy of adjusting antimicrobial use over space to manage antimicrobial resistance is mediated by competition among pathogen strains and the topology of pathogen metapopulations. For several pathogen migration scenarios, we derive critical thresholds for the spatial extent of antimicrobial use below which resistance cannot emerge, and relate these thresholds to (a) the ability to eradicate antimicrobial-sensitive pathogens locally and (b) the strength of the trade-off between resistance ability and competitive performance where antimicrobial use is absent. We find that in metapopulations where patches differ in connectedness, constraining antimicrobial use across space to mitigate resistance evolution only works if the migration of the resistant pathogen is modest; yet, this situation is reversed if the resistant strain has a high colonization rate, with variably connected metapopulations exhibiting less sensitivity to reducing antimicrobial use across space. Furthermore, when pathogens are alternately exposed to sites with and without the antimicrobial, bottlenecking resistant strains through sites without an antimicrobial is only likely to be effective under a strong competition–resistance trade-off. We therefore identify life-history constraints that are likely to suggest which pathogens can most effectively be controlled by a spatially targeted antimicrobial regime. We discuss implications of our results for managing and thinking about antimicrobial resistance evolution in spatially heterogeneous contexts.