Antimicrobial Peptide Combination Can Hinder Resistance Evolution

Bar Maron, Jens Rolff, Jonathan Friedman*, Zvi Hayouka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Antibiotic-resistant microbial pathogens are becoming a major threat to human health. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop new alternatives to conventional antibiotics. One such promising alternative is antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are produced by virtually all organisms and typically inhibit bacteria via membrane disruption. However, previous studies demonstrated that bacteria can rapidly develop AMP resistance. Here, we study whether combination therapy, known to be able to inhibit the evolution of resistance to conventional antibiotics, can also hinder the evolution of AMP resistance. To do so, we evolved the opportunistic pathogen Staphylococcus aureus in the presence of individual AMPs, AMP pairs, and a combinatorial antimicrobial peptide library. Treatment with some AMP pairs indeed hindered the evolution of resistance compared with individual AMPs. In particular, resistance to pairs was delayed when resistance to the individual AMPs came at a cost of impaired bacterial growth and did not confer cross-resistance to other tested AMPs. The lowest level of resistance evolved during treatment with the combinatorial antimicrobial peptide library termed random antimicrobial peptide mixture, which contains more than a million different peptides. A better understanding of how AMP combinations affect the evolution of resistance is a crucial step in order to design “resistant proof” AMP cocktails that will offer a sustainable treatment option for antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Maron et al.


  • antibiotic resistance
  • antimicrobial combinations
  • antimicrobial peptides
  • experimental evolution


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