Bacterial infections are responsible for one quarter of all deaths, a number that may rise with the alarming increase in multi-drug resistant strains. On page 20 of this feature on antibiotics, Jo Handelsman, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, writes that applying metagenomic approaches may yield new treatments. "Most of the antibiotics used today are derived from cultured soil bacteria, but these organisms represent only the tip of a microbiological iceberg" she says. But first we take a look at how stopping bacterial evolution could improve the power of new drugs and bolster the ones already at hand.

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