Definitions and guidelines for research on antibiotic persistence

Nathalie Q Balaban*, Sophie Helaine, Kim Lewis, Martin Ackermann, Bree Aldridge, Dan I Andersson, Mark P Brynildsen, Dirk Bumann, Andrew Camilli, James J Collins, Christoph Dehio, Sarah Fortune, Jean-Marc Ghigo, Wolf-Dietrich Hardt, Alexander Harms, Matthias Heinemann, Deborah T Hung, Urs Jenal, Bruce R Levin, Jan MichielsGisela Storz, Man-Wah Tan, Tanel Tenson, Laurence Van Melderen, Annelies Zinkernagel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

670 Citations (Scopus)
236 Downloads (Pure)


Increasing concerns about the rising rates of antibiotic therapy failure and advances in single-cell analyses have inspired a surge of research into antibiotic persistence. Bacterial persister cells represent a subpopulation of cells that can survive intensive antibiotic treatment without being resistant. Several approaches have emerged to define and measure persistence, and it is now time to agree on the basic definition of persistence and its relation to the other mechanisms by which bacteria survive exposure to bactericidal antibiotic treatments, such as antibiotic resistance, heteroresistance or tolerance. In this Consensus Statement, we provide definitions of persistence phenomena, distinguish between triggered and spontaneous persistence and provide a guide to measuring persistence. Antibiotic persistence is not only an interesting example of non-genetic single-cell heterogeneity, it may also have a role in the failure of antibiotic treatments. Therefore, it is our hope that the guidelines outlined in this article will pave the way for better characterization of antibiotic persistence and for understanding its relevance to clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-448
Number of pages8
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Issue number7
Early online date12-Apr-2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2019




Dive into the research topics of 'Definitions and guidelines for research on antibiotic persistence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • Publisher Correction: Definitions and guidelines for research on antibiotic persistence

    Balaban, N. Q., Helaine, S., Lewis, K., Ackermann, M., Aldridge, B., Andersson, D. I., Brynildsen, M. P., Bumann, D., Camilli, A., Collins, J. J., Dehio, C., Fortune, S., Ghigo, J.-M., Hardt, W.-D., Harms, A., Heinemann, M., Hung, D. T., Jenal, U., Levin, B. R. & Michiels, J. & 5 others, Storz, G., Tan, M.-W., Tenson, T., Van Melderen, L. & Zinkernagel, A., Jul-2019, In: Nature Reviews Microbiology. 17, 7, p. 460-460 1 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalErratum

    Open Access
    27 Citations (Scopus)
    48 Downloads (Pure)

Cite this