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Integrons are versatile gene acquisition systems commonly found in bacterial genomes. They are ancient elements that are a hot spot for genomic complexity, generating phenotypic diversity and shaping adaptive responses. In recent times, they have had a major role in the acquisition, expression, and dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes. Assessing the ongoing threats posed by integrons requires an understanding of their origins and evolutionary history. Source text: Gillings, 2014.