Environmental study of azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus and other aspergilli in Austria, Denmark, and Spain

Klaus Leth Mortensen, Emilia Mellado, Cornelia Lass-Flörl, Juan Luis Rodriguez-Tudela, Helle Krogh Johansen, Maiken Cavling Arendrup
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 2010, 54 (11): 4545-9
A single mechanism of azole resistance was shown to predominate in clinical and environmental Aspergillus fumigatus isolates from the Netherlands, and a link to the use of azoles in the environment was suggested. To explore the prevalence of azole-resistant A. fumigatus and other aspergilli in the environment in other European countries, we collected samples from the surroundings of hospitals in Copenhagen, Innsbruck, and Madrid, flowerbeds in an amusement park in Copenhagen, and compost bags purchased in Austria, Denmark, and Spain and screened for azole resistance using multidish agars with itraconazole, voriconazole, and posaconazole. EUCAST method E.DEF 9.1 was used to confirm azole resistance. The promoter and entire coding sequence of the cyp51A gene were sequenced to identify azole-resistant A. fumigatus isolates. A. fumigatus was recovered in 144 out of 185 samples (77.8%). Four A. fumigatus isolates from four Danish soil samples displayed elevated azole MICs (8%), and all harbored the same TR/L98H mutation of cyp51A. One A. lentulus isolate with voriconazole MIC of 4 mg/liter was detected in Spain. No azole-resistant aspergilli were detected in compost. Finally, A. terreus was present in seven samples from Austria. Multi-azole-resistant A. fumigatus is present in the environment in Denmark. The resistance mechanism is identical to that of environmental isolates in the Netherlands. No link to commercial compost could be detected. In Spain and Austria, only Aspergillus species with intrinsic resistance to either azoles or amphotericin B were found.

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