Prevalence and characteristics of β-lactamase and plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance genes in Escherichia coli isolated from farmed fish in China

Hong-Xia Jiang, Dian Tang, Ya-Hong Liu, Xiao-Hua Zhang, Zhen-Ling Zeng, Li Xu, Peter M Hawkey
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 2012, 67 (10): 2350-3

OBJECTIVE: To determine the molecular epidemiology of extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs) and plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance (PMQR) in Escherichia coli isolated from farmed fish in China.

METHODS: E. coli was isolated from fish gut samples from fish farmed throughout Guangdong province and tested for the presence of the β-lactamase genes and PMQR-encoding genes using PCR and DNA sequence analysis. Co-transfer of plasmids encoding for ESBLs as well as PMQR determinants was explored by conjugation into E. coli.

RESULTS: A total of 218 non-duplicate E. coli were recovered from fish gut samples. β-Lactamase genes were identified in 19 (17%) of 112 strains with reduced susceptibility to ampicillin, and PMQR genes were identified in 59 (73.8%) of 80 strains with reduced susceptibility to ciprofloxacin. Only three ESBL genes were identified in three isolates: bla(CTX-M-14), bla(CTX-M-79) and bla(SHV-27). PMQR gene screening identified qnr genes (n = 59) as the most common, including qnrB (n = 33), qnrS (n = 21) and qnrD (n = 5), with aac(6')-Ib-cr (n = 6) being rarely found. The co-carriage of two or three PMQR genes in one strain was found in 7 (11.9%) isolates. The ESBL gene bla(CTX-M-79) was found to be co-carried with qnrS. Co-transfer of qnrS was observed with bla(CTX-M-79).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study is the first to demonstrate the existence of high levels of mobile genes conferring reduced susceptibility to fluoroquinolones as well as the presence of ESBL genes in fish produced in China, and identifies a significant reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes relevant to human medicine.

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