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The emergence of antimicrobial resistance in environmental strains of the Bacteroides fragilis group.

Anaerobic bacteria of the genus Bacteroides are a large group of commensal microorganisms that colonize the human and animal digestive tract. The genus Bacteroides and the closely related genus Parabacteroides include the Bacteroides fragilis group (BFG) of potentially pathogenic bacteria which are frequently isolated from patients with anaerobic infections. The aim of this study was to assess the antimicrobial resistance of environmental strains of the Bacteroides fragilis group. Strains were isolated from human feces, hospital wastewater, influent (UWW) and effluent (TWW) wastewater from a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), and from the feces of lab rats as a negative control to monitor the entire route of transmission of BFG strains from humans to the environment. The resistance of 123 environmental BFG strains to six antibiotic groups was analyzed with the use of culture-dependent methods. Additionally, the presence of 25 genes encoding antibiotic resistance was determined by PCR. The analyzed environmental BFG strains were highly resistant to the tested antibiotics. The percentage of resistant strains differed between the analyzed antibiotics and was determined at 97.56% for ciprofloxacin, 49.59% for erythromycin, 44.71% for ampicillin, 35.77% for tetracycline, 32.52% for amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, 26.83% for chloramphenicol, 26.01% for clindamycin, 11.38% for moxifloxacin, and 8.94% for metronidazole. The highest drug-resistance levels were observed in the strains isolated from UWW and TWW samples. The mechanisms of antibiotic-resistance were determined in phenotypically resistant strains of BFG. Research has demonstrated the widespread presence of genes encoding resistance to chloramphenicol (100% of all chloramphenicol-resistant strains), tetracyclines (97.78% of all tetracycline-resistant strains), macrolides, lincosamides and streptogramins (81.97% of all erythromycin-resistant strains). Genes encoding resistance to β-lactams and fluoroquinolones were less prevalent. None of the metronidazole-resistant strains harbored the gene encoding resistance to nitroimidazoles. BFG strains isolated from UWW and TWW samples were characterized by the highest diversity of antibiotic-resistance genes and were most often drug-resistant and multidrug-resistant. The present study examines the potential negative consequences of drug-resistant and multidrug-resistant BFG strains that are evacuated with treated wastewater into the environment. The transmission of these bacteria to surface water bodies can pose potential health threats for humans and animals; therefore, the quality of treated wastewater should be strictly monitored.

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