Antibiotic resistance (ABR) is now recognised as a serious global health and economic threat that is most efficiently managed via a ‘one health’ approach incorporating environmental risk assessment. Although the environmental dimension of ABR has been largely overlooked, recent studies have underlined the importance of non-clinical settings in the emergence and spread of resistant strains. Despite this, several research gaps remain in regard to the development of a robust and fit-for-purpose environmental risk assessment for ABR drivers such as antibiotics (ABs). Here we explore the role the environment plays in the dissemination of ABR within the context of stereochemistry and its particular form, enantiomerism. Taking chloramphenicol as a proof of principle, we argue that stereoisomerism of ABs impacts on biological properties and the mechanisms of resistance and we discuss more broadly the importance of stereochemistry (enantiomerism in particular) with respect to antimicrobial potency and range of action.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105681
JournalEnvironment International
Early online date3 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • ABR
  • AMR
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Chirality
  • Chloramphenicol
  • Stereochemistry
  • Wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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