Bacteroides fragilis group (BFG) species are common members of the human microbiota that provide several benefits to healthy hosts, yet BFG are also the most common anaerobes isolated from human infections, including intra-abdominal infections, abscesses, and bloodstream infection. Compared to many other anaerobes associated with disease, members of the BFG are more likely to be resistant to commonly used antimicrobials, including penicillin (>90% resistant), carbapenems (2 to 20% resistant), and metronidazole (0.2 to 4% resistant). As a result, infection with BFG bacteria can be associated with poor clinical outcomes. Here, we discuss the role of BFG in human health and disease, proposed taxonomic reclassifications within the BFG, and updates in methods for species-level identification. The increasing availability of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) supports recent proposals that the BFG now span two families (Bacteroidaceae and "Tannerellaceae") and multiple genera (Bacteroides, Parabacteroides, and Phocaeicola) within the phylum Bacteroidota. While members of the BFG are often reported to "group" rather than "species" level in many clinical settings, new reports of species-specific trends in antimicrobial resistance profiles and improved resolution of identification tools support routine species-level reporting in clinical practice. Empirical therapy may not be adequate for treatment of serious infections with BFG, warranting susceptibility testing for serious infections. We summarize methods for antimicrobial susceptibility testing and resistance prediction for BFG, including broth microdilution, agar dilution, WGS, and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). We examine global trends in BFG antimicrobial resistance and review genomics of BFG, revealing insights into rapid activation and dissemination of numerous antimicrobial resistance mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0236120
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 21 2022


  • antibiotic resistance
  • antimicrobial agents
  • Bacteroides
  • Parabacteroides
  • Phocaeicola
  • taxonomy
  • whole-genome sequencing


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