Implications of indoor microbial ecology and evolution on antibiotic resistance

Sarah Ben Maamar, Jinglin Hu, Erica M. Hartmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The indoor environment is an important source of microbial exposures for its human occupants. While we naturally want to favor positive health outcomes, built environment design and operation may counter-intuitively favor negative health outcomes, particularly with regard to antibiotic resistance. Indoor environments contain microbes from both human and non-human origins, providing a unique venue for microbial interactions, including horizontal gene transfer. Furthermore, stressors present in the built environment could favor the exchange of genetic material in general and the retention of antibiotic resistance genes in particular. Intrinsic and acquired antibiotic resistance both pose a potential threat to human health; these phenomena need to be considered and controlled separately. The presence of both environmental and human-associated microbes, along with their associated antibiotic resistance genes, in the face of stressors, including antimicrobial chemicals, creates a unique opportunity for the undesirable spread of antibiotic resistance. In this review, we summarize studies and findings related to various interactions between human-associated bacteria, environmental bacteria, and built environment conditions, and particularly their relation to antibiotic resistance, aiming to guide “healthy” building design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Epidemiology
  • Toxicology


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