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1.  Main Functions and Taxonomic Distribution of Virulence Genes in Brucella melitensis 16 M 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100349.
Many virulence genes have been detected in attenuated mutants of Brucella melitensis 16 M; nevertheless, a complete report of these genes, including the main Cluster of Orthologous Groups (COG) represented as well as the taxonomical distribution among all complete bacterial and archaeal genomes, has not been analyzed. In this work a total of 160 virulence genes that have been reported in attenuated mutants in B. melitensis were included and analyzed. Additionally, we obtained 250 B. melitensis randomly selected genes as a reference group for the taxonomical comparisons. The COGs and the taxonomical distribution profile for 789 nonredundant bacterial and archaeal genomes were obtained and compared with the whole-genome COG distribution and with the 250 randomly selected genes, respectively. The main COGs associated with virulence genes corresponded to the following: intracellular trafficking, secretion and vesicular transport (U); cell motility (N); nucleotide transport and metabolism (F); transcription (K); and cell wall/membrane/envelope biogenesis (M). In addition, we found that virulence genes presented a higher proportion of orthologs in the Euryarchaeota and Proteobacteria phyla, with a significant decrease in Chlamydiae, Bacteroidetes, Tenericutes, Firmicutes and Thermotogae. In conclusion, we found that genes related to specific functions are more relevant to B. melitensis virulence, with the COG U the most significant. Additionally, the taxonomical distribution of virulence genes highlights the importance of these genes in the related Proteobacteria, being less relevant in distant groups of organisms with the exception of Euryarchaeota.
PMCID: PMC4070974  PMID: 24964015
2.  Effects of Cationic Antimicrobial Peptides on Liquid-Preserved Boar Spermatozoa 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100490.
Antibiotics are mandatory additives in semen extenders to control bacterial contamination. The worldwide increase in resistance to conventional antibiotics requires the search for alternatives not only for animal artificial insemination industries, but also for veterinary and human medicine. Cationic antimicrobial peptides are of interest as a novel class of antimicrobial additives for boar semen preservation. The present study investigated effects of two synthetic cyclic hexapeptides (c-WFW, c-WWW) and a synthetic helical magainin II amide derivative (MK5E) on boar sperm during semen storage at 16°C for 4 days. The standard extender, Beltsville Thawing Solution (BTS) containing 250 µg/mL gentamicin (standard), was compared to combinations of BTS with each of the peptides in a split-sample procedure. Examination revealed peptide- and concentration-dependent effects on sperm integrity and motility. Negative effects were more pronounced for MK5E than in hexapeptide-supplemented samples. The cyclic hexapeptides were partly able to stimulate a linear progressive sperm movement. When using low concentrations of cyclic hexapeptides (4 µM c-WFW, 2 µM c-WWW) sperm quality was comparable to the standard extender over the course of preservation. C-WFW-supplemented boar semen resulted in normal fertility rates after AI. In order to investigate the interaction of peptides with the membrane, electron spin resonance spectroscopic measurements were performed using spin-labeled lipids. C-WWW and c-WFW reversibly immobilized an analog of phosphatidylcholine (PC), whereas MK5E caused an irreversible increase of PC mobility. These results suggest testing the antimicrobial efficiency of non-toxic concentrations of selected cyclic hexapeptides as potential candidates to supplement/replace common antibiotics in semen preservation.
PMCID: PMC4062521  PMID: 24940997
3.  Cultivable Bacterial Microbiota of Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus): A New Reservoir of Antimicrobial Resistance? 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99826.
The northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) is an ecologically and economically important avian species. At the present time, little is known about the microbial communities associated with these birds. As the first step to create a quail microbiology knowledge base, the current study conducted an inventory of cultivable quail tracheal, crop, cecal, and cloacal microbiota and associated antimicrobial resistance using a combined bacteriology and DNA sequencing approach. A total of 414 morphologically unique bacterial colonies were selected from nonselective aerobic and anaerobic cultures, as well as selective and enrichment cultures. Analysis of the first 500-bp 16S rRNA gene sequences in conjunction with biochemical identifications revealed 190 non-redundant species-level taxonomic units, representing 160 known bacterial species and 30 novel species. The bacterial species were classified into 4 phyla, 14 orders, 37 families, and 59 or more genera. Firmicutes was the most commonly encountered phylum (57%) followed by Actinobacteria (24%), Proteobacteria (17%) and Bacteroidetes (0.02%). Extensive diversity in the species composition of quail microbiota was observed among individual birds and anatomical locations. Quail microbiota harbored several opportunistic pathogens, such as E. coli and Ps. aeruginosa, as well as human commensal organisms, including Neisseria species. Phenotypic characterization of selected bacterial species demonstrated a high prevalence of resistance to the following classes of antimicrobials: phenicol, macrolide, lincosamide, quinolone, and sulphate. Data from the current investigation warrant further investigation on the source, transmission, pathology, and control of antimicrobial resistance in wild quail populations.
PMCID: PMC4061065  PMID: 24937705
4.  Evaluation of a Pooled Strategy for High-Throughput Sequencing of Cosmid Clones from Metagenomic Libraries 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98968.
High-throughput sequencing methods have been instrumental in the growing field of metagenomics, with technological improvements enabling greater throughput at decreased costs. Nonetheless, the economy of high-throughput sequencing cannot be fully leveraged in the subdiscipline of functional metagenomics. In this area of research, environmental DNA is typically cloned to generate large-insert libraries from which individual clones are isolated, based on specific activities of interest. Sequence data are required for complete characterization of such clones, but the sequencing of a large set of clones requires individual barcode-based sample preparation; this can become costly, as the cost of clone barcoding scales linearly with the number of clones processed, and thus sequencing a large number of metagenomic clones often remains cost-prohibitive. We investigated a hybrid Sanger/Illumina pooled sequencing strategy that omits barcoding altogether, and we evaluated this strategy by comparing the pooled sequencing results to reference sequence data obtained from traditional barcode-based sequencing of the same set of clones. Using identity and coverage metrics in our evaluation, we show that pooled sequencing can generate high-quality sequence data, without producing problematic chimeras. Though caveats of a pooled strategy exist and further optimization of the method is required to improve recovery of complete clone sequences and to avoid circumstances that generate unrecoverable clone sequences, our results demonstrate that pooled sequencing represents an effective and low-cost alternative for sequencing large sets of metagenomic clones.
PMCID: PMC4049660  PMID: 24911009
5.  An Investigation of the Diversity of Strains of Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli Isolated from Cases Associated with a Large Multi-Pathogen Foodborne Outbreak in the UK 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98103.
Following a large outbreak of foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) disease, a multiplex PCR approach was used retrospectively to investigate faecal specimens from 88 of the 413 reported cases. Gene targets from a range of bacterial GI pathogens were detected, including Salmonella species, Shigella species and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, with the majority (75%) of faecal specimens being PCR positive for aggR associated with the Enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) group. The 20 isolates of EAEC recovered from the outbreak specimens exhibited a range of serotypes, the most frequent being O104:H4 and O131:H27. None of the EAEC isolates had the Shiga toxin (stx) genes. Multilocus sequence typing and single nucleotide polymorphism analysis of the core genome confirmed the diverse phylogeny of the strains. The analysis also revealed a close phylogenetic relationship between the EAEC O104:H4 strains in this outbreak and the strain of E. coli O104:H4 associated with a large outbreak of haemolytic ureamic syndrome in Germany in 2011. Further analysis of the EAEC plasmids, encoding the key enteroaggregative virulence genes, showed diversity with respect to FIB/FII type, gene content and genomic architecture. Known EAEC virulence genes, such as aggR, aat and aap, were present in all but one of the strains. A variety of fimbrial genes were observed, including genes encoding all five known fimbrial types, AAF/1 to AAF/V. The AAI operon was present in its entirety in 15 of the EAEC strains, absent in three and present, but incomplete, in two isolates. EAEC is known to be a diverse pathotype and this study demonstrates that a high level of diversity in strains recovered from cases associated with a single outbreak. Although the EAEC in this study did not carry the stx genes, this outbreak provides further evidence of the pathogenic potential of the EAEC O104:H4 serotype.
PMCID: PMC4028294  PMID: 24844597
6.  Epidemiology of Extended-Spectrum β-Lactamase Producing Escherichia coli in the Stools of Returning Japanese Travelers, and the Risk Factors for Colonization 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98000.
Travel overseas has recently been considered a risk factor for colonization with drug-resistant bacteria. The purpose of this study was to establish the epidemiology and risk factors associated with the acquisition of drug-resistant bacteria by Japanese travelers.
Between October 2011 and September 2012, we screened the stools of 68 Japanese returning travelers for extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL) producing Escherichia coli. All specimens were sampled for clinical reasons. Based on the results, the participants were divided into an ESBL-producing E. coli positive group (18 cases; 26%) and an ESBL-producing E. coli negative group (50 cases; 74%), and a case-control study was performed. Microbiological analyses of ESBL-producing strains, including susceptibility tests, screening tests for metallo-β-lactamase, polymerase chain reaction amplification and sequencing of blaCTX-M genes, multilocus sequence typing, and whole genome sequencing, were also conducted.
In a univariate comparison, travel to India was a risk factor (Odds Ratio 13.6, 95% Confidence Interval 3.0–75.0, p<0.0001). There were no statistical differences in the characteristics of the travel, such as backpacking, purpose of travel, interval between travel return and sampling stool, and duration of travel. Although 10 of 13 analyzed strains (77%) produced CTX-M-15, no ST131 clone was detected.
We must be aware of the possibilities of acquiring ESBL-producing E. coli during travel in order to prevent the spread of these bacteria not only in Japan but globally.
PMCID: PMC4023997  PMID: 24836896
7.  IncA/C Plasmid-Mediated Spread of CMY-2 in Multidrug-Resistant Escherichia coli from Food Animals in China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96738.
To obtain a broad molecular epidemiological characterization of plasmid-mediated AmpC β-lactamase CMY-2 in Escherichia coli isolates from food animals in China.
A total of 1083 E. coli isolates from feces, viscera, blood, drinking water, and sub-surface soil were examined for the presence of CMY-2 β-lactamases. CMY-2-producing isolates were characterized as follows: the blaCMY-2 genotype was determined using PCR and sequencing, characterization of the blaCMY-2 genetic environment, plasmid sizing using S1 nuclease pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), PCR-based replicon typing, phylogenetic grouping, XbaI-PFGE, and multi-locus sequence typing (MLST).
All 31 CMY-2 producers were only detected in feces, and presented with multidrug resistant phenotypes. All CMY-2 strains also co-harbored genes conferring resistance to other antimicrobials, including extended spectrum β-lactamases genes (blaCTX-M-14 or blaCTX-M-55), plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance determinants (qnr, oqxA, and aac-(6′)-Ib-cr), floR and rmtB. The co-transferring of blaCMY-2 with qnrS1 and floR (alone and together) was mainly driven by the Inc A/C type plasmid, with sizes of 160 or 200 kb. Gene cassette arrays inserted in the class 1 or class 2 integron were amplified among 12 CMY-2 producers. CMY-2 producers belonged to avirulent groups B1 (n = 12) and A (n = 11), and virulent group D (n = 8). There was a good correlation between phylogenetic groups and sequence types (ST). Twenty-four STs were identified, of which the ST complexes (STC) 101/B1 (n = 6), STC10/A (n = 5), and STC155/B1 (n = 3) were dominant.
CMY-2 is the dominant AmpC β-lactamase in food animals and is associated with a transferable replicon IncA/C plasmid in the STC101, STC10, and STC155 strains.
PMCID: PMC4016023  PMID: 24816748
8.  Resistance to β-Lactam Antibiotics Conferred by Point Mutations in Penicillin-Binding Proteins PBP3, PBP4 and PBP6 in Salmonella enterica 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97202.
Penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) are enzymes responsible for the polymerization of the glycan strand and the cross-linking between glycan chains as well as the target proteins for β-lactam antibiotics. Mutational alterations in PBPs can confer resistance either by reducing binding of the antibiotic to the active site or by evolving a β-lactamase activity that degrades the antibiotic. As no systematic studies have been performed to examine the potential of all PBPs present in one bacterial species to evolve increased resistance against β-lactam antibiotics, we explored the ability of fifteen different defined or putative PBPs in Salmonella enterica to acquire increased resistance against penicillin G. We could after mutagenesis and selection in presence of penicillin G isolate mutants with amino-acid substitutions in the PBPs, FtsI, DacB and DacC (corresponding to PBP3, PBP4 and PBP6) with increased resistance against β-lactam antibiotics. Our results suggest that: (i) most evolved PBPs became ‘generalists” with increased resistance against several different classes of β-lactam antibiotics, (ii) synergistic interactions between mutations conferring antibiotic resistance are common and (iii) the mechanism of resistance of these mutants could be to make the active site more accessible for water allowing hydrolysis or less binding to β-lactam antibiotics.
PMCID: PMC4014608  PMID: 24810745
9.  Association of Veterinary Third-Generation Cephalosporin Use with the Risk of Emergence of Extended-Spectrum-Cephalosporin Resistance in Escherichia coli from Dairy Cattle in Japan 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e96101.
The use of extended-spectrum cephalosporins in food animals has been suggested to increase the risk of spread of Enterobacteriaceae carrying extended-spectrum β-lactamases to humans. However, evidence that selection of extended-spectrum cephalosporin–resistant bacteria owing to the actual veterinary use of these drugs according to criteria established in cattle has not been demonstrated. In this study, we investigated the natural occurrence of cephalosporin-resistant Escherichia coli in dairy cattle following clinical application of ceftiofur. E. coli isolates were obtained from rectal samples of treated and untreated cattle (n = 20/group) cultured on deoxycholate-hydrogen sulfide-lactose agar in the presence or absence of ceftiofur. Eleven cefazoline-resistant isolates were obtained from two of the ceftiofur-treated cattle; no cefazoline-resistant isolates were found in untreated cattle. The cefazoline-resistant isolates had mutations in the chromosomal ampC promoter region and remained susceptible to ceftiofur. Eighteen extended-spectrum cephalosporin–resistant isolates from two ceftiofur-treated cows were obtained on ceftiofur-supplemented agar; no extended-spectrum cephalosporin–resistant isolates were obtained from untreated cattle. These extended-spectrum cephalosporin–resistant isolates possessed plasmid-mediated β-lactamase genes, including blaCTX-M-2 (9 isolates), blaCTX-M-14 (8 isolates), or blaCMY-2 (1 isolate); isolates possessing blaCTX-M-2 and blaCTX-M-14 were clonally related. These genes were located on self-transmissible plasmids. Our results suggest that appropriate veterinary use of ceftiofur did not trigger growth extended-spectrum cephalosporin–resistant E. coli in the bovine rectal flora; however, ceftiofur selection in vitro suggested that additional ceftiofur exposure enhanced selection for specific extended-spectrum cephalosporin–resistant β-lactamase-expressing E. coli clones
PMCID: PMC3995961  PMID: 24755996
10.  Population Structure among Mycobacterium tuberculosis Isolates from Pulmonary Tuberculosis Patients in Colombia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93848.
Phylogeographic composition of M. tuberculosis populations reveals associations between lineages and human populations that might have implications for the development of strategies to control the disease. In Latin America, lineage 4 or the Euro-American, is predominant with considerable variations among and within countries. In Colombia, although few studies from specific localities have revealed differences in M. tuberculosis populations, there are still areas of the country where this information is lacking, as is a comparison of Colombian isolates with those from the rest of the world.
Principal Findings
A total of 414 M. tuberculosis isolates from adult pulmonary tuberculosis cases from three Colombian states were studied. Isolates were genotyped using IS6110-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), spoligotyping, and 24-locus Mycobacterial interspersed repetitive units variable number tandem repeats (MIRU-VNTRs). SIT42 (LAM9) and SIT62 (H1) represented 53.3% of isolates, followed by 8.21% SIT50 (H3), 5.07% SIT53 (T1), and 3.14% SIT727 (H1). Composite spoligotyping and 24-locus MIRU- VNTR minimum spanning tree analysis suggest a recent expansion of SIT42 and SIT62 evolved originally from SIT53 (T1). The proportion of Haarlem sublineage (44.3%) was significantly higher than that in neighboring countries. Associations were found between M. tuberculosis MDR and SIT45 (H1), as well as HIV-positive serology with SIT727 (H1) and SIT53 (T1).
This study showed the population structure of M. tuberculosis in several regions from Colombia with a dominance of the LAM and Haarlem sublineages, particularly in two major urban settings (Medellín and Cali). Dominant spoligotypes were LAM9 (SIT 42) and Haarlem (SIT62). The proportion of the Haarlem sublineage was higher in Colombia compared to that in neighboring countries, suggesting particular conditions of co-evolution with the corresponding human population that favor the success of this sublineage.
PMCID: PMC3991582  PMID: 24747767
11.  Identification of a Novel G2073A Mutation in 23S rRNA in Amphenicol-Selected Mutants of Campylobacter jejuni 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94503.
This study was conducted to examine the development and molecular mechanisms of amphenicol resistance in Campylobacter jejuni by using in vitro selection with chloramphenicol and florfenicol. The impact of the resistance development on growth rates was also determined using in vitro culture.
Chloramphenicol and florfenicol were used as selection agents to perform in vitro stepwise selection. Mutants resistant to the selective agents were obtained from the selection process. The mutant strains were compared with the parent strain for changes in MICs and growth rates. The 23S rRNA gene and the L4 and L22 ribosomal protein genes in the mutant strains and the parent strain were amplified and sequenced to identify potential resistance-associated mutations.
C. jejuni strains that were highly resistant to chloramphenicol and florfenicol were obtained from in vitro selection. A novel G2073A mutation in all three copies of the 23S rRNA gene was identified in all the resistant mutants examined, which showed resistance to both chloramphenicol and florfenicol. In addition, all the mutants selected by chloramphenicol also exhibited the G74D modification in ribosomal protein L4, which was previously shown to confer a low-level erythromycin resistance in Campylobacter species. The mutants selected by florfenicol did not have the G74D mutation in L4. Notably, the amphenicol-resistant mutants also exhibited reduced susceptibility to erythromycin, suggesting that the selection resulted in cross resistance to macrolides.
This study identifies a novel point mutation (G2073A) in 23S rRNA in amphenicol-selected mutants of C. jejuni. Development of amphenicol resistance in Campylobacter likely incurs a fitness cost as the mutant strains showed slower growth rates in antibiotic-free media.
PMCID: PMC3984149  PMID: 24728007
12.  Wild Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus) as a Source of Salmonella and Campylobacter in Eastern Spain 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94191.
The existence of Campylobacter and Salmonella reservoirs in wildlife is a potential hazard to animal and human health; however, the prevalence of these species is largely unknown. Until now, only a few studies have evaluated the presence of Campylobacter and Salmonella in wild griffon vultures and based on a small number of birds. The aim of this study was to evaluate the presence of Campylobacter and Salmonella in wild griffon vultures (n = 97) during the normal ringing programme at the Cinctorres Observatory in Eastern Spain. In addition, the effect of ages of individuals (juveniles, subadult and adult) on the presence were compared. Campylobacter was isolated from 1 of 97 (1.0%) griffon vultures and identified as C. jejuni. Salmonella was isolated from 51 of 97 (52.6%) griffon vultures. No significant differences were found between the ages of individuals for the presence of Salmonella. Serotyping revealed 6 different serovars among two Salmonella enterica subspecies; S. enterica subsp. enterica (n = 49, 96.1%) and S. enterica subsp. salamae (n = 2, 3.9%). No more than one serovar was isolated per individual. The serovars isolated were S. Typhimurium (n = 42, 82.3%), S. Rissen (n = 4, 7.8%), S. Senftenberg (n = 3, 5.9%) and S. 4,12:b[-] (n = 2, 3.9%). Our results imply that wild griffon vultures are a risk factor for Salmonella transmission, but do not seem to be a reservoir for Campylobacter. We therefore rule out vultures as a risk factor for human campylobacteriosis. Nevertheless, further studies should be undertaken in other countries to confirm these results.
PMCID: PMC3978023  PMID: 24710464
13.  Sulphonamide and Trimethoprim Resistance Genes Persist in Sediments at Baltic Sea Aquaculture Farms but Are Not Detected in the Surrounding Environment 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92702.
Persistence and dispersal of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) are important factors for assessing ARG risk in aquaculture environments. Here, we quantitatively detected ARGs for sulphonamides (sul1 and sul2) and trimethoprim (dfrA1) and an integrase gene for a class 1 integron (intI1) at aquaculture facilities in the northern Baltic Sea, Finland. The ARGs persisted in sediments below fish farms at very low antibiotic concentrations during the 6-year observation period from 2006 to 2012. Although the ARGs persisted in the farm sediments, they were less prevalent in the surrounding sediments. The copy numbers between the sul1 and intI1 genes were significantly correlated suggesting that class 1 integrons may play a role in the prevalence of sul1 in the farm sediments through horizontal gene transfer. In conclusion, the presence of ARGs may limit the effectiveness of antibiotics in treating fish illnesses, thereby causing a potential risk to the aquaculture industry. However, the restricted presence of ARGs at the farms is unlikely to cause serious effects in the northern Baltic Sea sediment environments around the farms.
PMCID: PMC3961581  PMID: 24651770
14.  relA Enhances the Adherence of Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91703.
Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) is a known causative agent of diarrhea in children. In the process of colonization of the small intestine, EPEC synthesizes two types of adhesins, the bundle-forming pilus (BFP) and intimin. The BFP pilus is an adhesin associated with the initial stages of adherence of EPEC to epithelial cells, while the outer membrane protein intimin carries out the intimate adherence that takes place at the third stage of infection. BFP is encoded by the bfp operon located in plasmid EAF, present only in typical EPEC isolates, while eae, the gene that encodes intimin is situated in the LEE, a chromosomal pathogenicity island. Transcription of bfp and eae is regulated by the products of the perABC operon, also present in plasmid EAF. Here we show that deletion of relA, that encodes a guanosine penta and tetraphosphate synthetase impairs EPEC adherence to epithelial cells in vitro. In the absence of relA, the transcription of the regulatory operon perABC is reduced, resulting in lower levels of BFP and intimin. Bacterial adherence, BFP and intimin synthesis and perABC expression are restored upon complementation with the wild-type relA allele.
PMCID: PMC3958371  PMID: 24643076
15.  Effect of Egg Washing and Correlation between Eggshell Characteristics and Egg Penetration by Various Salmonella Typhimurium Strains 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90987.
Salmonella is an important foodborne pathogen, causing an estimated 11,992 cases of infection in Australia per year. Egg or egg product related salmonellosis is a major concern for the egg industry. Worldwide, S. Typhimurium is one of the most common serovars identified in Salmonella food poisoning cases. The current study investigated the ability of five S. Typhimurium strains to penetrate washed and unwashed eggs using whole egg and agar egg penetration methods. All S. Typhimurium strains were able to penetrate eggshells and survive in egg albumen (at 20°C) according to whole egg penetration results. Polymerase Chain Reaction results demonstrated that S. Typhimurium strain 2 (103 and 105 CFU/mL), and strain 5 (103 and 105 CFU/mL) egg penetration was significantly higher (p<0.05) in washed eggs when compared to unwashed eggs. Statistical analysis of the agar penetration experiment indicated that S. Typhimurium was able to penetrate washed eggs at a significantly higher rate when compared to unwashed eggs (p<0.05). When compared to unwashed eggs, washed eggs also had significantly damaged cuticles. Statistical analysis also indicated that eggshell penetration by S. Typhimurium was related to various eggshell ultrastructural features such as cap quality, alignment, erosion, confluence, Type B bodies and cuticle cover.
PMCID: PMC3951326  PMID: 24621821
16.  Extended-Spectrum-Beta-Lactamases, AmpC Beta-Lactamases and Plasmid Mediated Quinolone Resistance in Klebsiella spp. from Companion Animals in Italy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90564.
We report the genetic characterization of 15 Klebsiella pneumoniae (KP) and 4 isolates of K. oxytoca (KO) from clinical cases in dogs and cats and showing extended-spectrum cephalosporin (ESC) resistance. Extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) and AmpC genes, plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance (PMQR) and co-resistances were investigated. Among KP isolates, ST101 clone was predominant (8/15, 53%), followed by ST15 (4/15, 27%). ST11 and ST340, belonging to Clonal Complex (CC)11, were detected in 2012 (3/15, 20%). MLST on KP isolates corresponded well with PFGE results, with 11 different PFGE patterns observed, including two clusters of two (ST340) and four (ST101) indistinguishable isolates, respectively. All isolates harbored at least one ESBL or AmpC gene, all carried on transferable plasmids (IncR, IncFII, IncI1, IncN), and 16/19 were positive for PMQR genes (qnr family or aac(6′)-Ib-cr). The most frequent ESBL was CTX-M-15 (11/19, 58%), detected in all KP ST101, in one KP ST15 and in both KP ST340. blaCTX-M-15 was carried on IncR plasmids in all but one KP isolate. All KP ST15 isolates harbored different ESC resistance genes and different plasmids, and presented the non-transferable blaSHV-28 gene, in association with blaCTX-M-15, blaCTX-M-1 (on IncR, or on IncN), blaSHV-2a (on IncR) or blaCMY-2 genes (on IncI1). KO isolates were positive for blaCTX-M-9 gene (on IncHI2), or for the blaSHV-12 and blaDHA-1 genes (on IncL/M). They were all positive for qnr genes, and one also for the aac(6′)-Ib-cr gene. All Klebsiella isolates showed multiresistance towards aminoglycosides, sulfonamides, tetracyclines, trimethoprim and amphenicols, mediated by strA/B, aadA2, aadB, ant (2")-Ia, aac(6′)-Ib, sul, tet, dfr and cat genes in various combinations. The emergence in pets of multidrug-resistant Klebsiella with ESBL, AmpC and PMQR determinants, poses further and serious challenges in companion animal therapy and raise concerns for possible bi-directional transmission between pets and humans, especially at household level.
PMCID: PMC3942433  PMID: 24595207
17.  Epidemiological Evidence That Garden Birds Are a Source of Human Salmonellosis in England and Wales 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88968.
The importance of wild bird populations as a reservoir of zoonotic pathogens is well established. Salmonellosis is a frequently diagnosed infectious cause of mortality of garden birds in England and Wales, predominantly caused by Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serovar Typhimurium definitive phage types 40, 56(v) and 160. In Britain, these phage types are considered highly host-adapted with a high degree of genetic similarity amongst isolates, and in some instances are clonal. Pulsed field gel electrophoresis, however, demonstrated minimal variation amongst matched DT40 and DT56(v) isolates derived from passerine and human incidents of salmonellosis across England in 2000–2007. Also, during the period 1993–2012, similar temporal and spatial trends of infection with these S. Typhimurium phage types occurred in both the British garden bird and human populations; 1.6% of all S. Typhimurium (0.2% of all Salmonella) isolates from humans in England and Wales over the period 2000–2010. These findings support the hypothesis that garden birds act as the primary reservoir of infection for these zoonotic bacteria. Most passerine salmonellosis outbreaks identified occurred at and around feeding stations, which are likely sites of public exposure to sick or dead garden birds and their faeces. We, therefore, advise the public to practise routine personal hygiene measures when feeding wild birds and especially when handling sick wild birds.
PMCID: PMC3935841  PMID: 24586464
18.  Cultivation-Independent Screening Revealed Hot Spots of IncP-1, IncP-7 and IncP-9 Plasmid Occurrence in Different Environmental Habitats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89922.
IncP-1, IncP-7 and IncP-9 plasmids often carry genes encoding enzymes involved in the degradation of man-made and natural contaminants, thus contributing to bacterial survival in polluted environments. However, the lack of suitable molecular tools often limits the detection of these plasmids in the environment. In this study, PCR followed by Southern blot hybridization detected the presence of plasmid-specific sequences in total community (TC-) DNA or fosmid DNA from samples originating from different environments and geographic regions. A novel primer system targeting IncP-9 plasmids was developed and applied along with established primers for IncP-1 and IncP-7. Screening TC-DNA from biopurification systems (BPS) which are used on farms for the purification of pesticide-contaminated water revealed high abundances of IncP-1 plasmids belonging to different subgroups as well as IncP-7 and IncP-9. The novel IncP-9 primer-system targeting the rep gene of nine IncP-9 subgroups allowed the detection of a high diversity of IncP-9 plasmid specific sequences in environments with different sources of pollution. Thus polluted sites are “hot spots” of plasmids potentially carrying catabolic genes.
PMCID: PMC3933701  PMID: 24587126
19.  Behavioral and Socioeconomic Risk Factors Associated with Probable Resistance to Ceftriaxone and Resistance to Penicillin and Tetracycline in Neisseria gonorrhoeae in Shanghai 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89458.
Globally, incidence of Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection is once again the highest of the bacterial sexually transmitted infections. The bacterium can produce serious complications in those infected, and emerging resistance to third generation cephalosporins could usher in an era of potentially untreatable gonorrhea. This research aimed to identify risk factors for antibiotic resistant gonorrhea infection among clients at a Shanghai sexually transmitted infection clinic over two time periods, 2004–2005 and 2008–2011. Demographic and risk factor behavior data, and biological samples for antimicrobial resistance analysis, were collected. Statistical models were built to identify risk factors associated with probable resistance to ceftriaxone and resistance to penicillin and tetracycline. High levels of ciprofloxacin resistance (98%) in our sample precluded examining its risk factors; all isolates were susceptible to spectinomycin. Overall (P<0.001), chromosomal (P<0.001), and plasmid-mediated (P = 0.01) penicillin resistance decreased from the first to second period of the study. For tetracycline, chromosomal resistance decreased (P = 0.01) and plasmid-mediated resistance increased (P<0.001) between the first and second periods of study. In multi-level multivariable regression models, male gender (P = 0.03) and older age (P = 0.01) were associated with increased minimum inhibitory concentrations to ceftriaxone. Male gender (P = 0.03) and alcohol use (P = 0.02) were associated with increased odds of overall tetracycline resistance. Male gender was associated with increased odds of chromosomally-mediated tetracycline resistance (P = 0.04), and alcohol use was associated with increased odds of plasmid-mediated tetracycline resistance (P = 0.02). Additionally, individuals in middle-salary categories were found to have lower odds of plasmid-mediated resistance to tetracycline compared with those in the lowest salary category (P≤0.02). This study is one of the first to use multilevel analysis to consider the association between risk factors for gonorrhea infections and mechanisms of resistance to individual antibiotics. Such information is urgently needed to combat the growing threat of untreatable gonorrhea.
PMCID: PMC3929748  PMID: 24586792
20.  Lack of efflux mediated quinolone resistance in Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Paratyphi A 
Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Paratyphi A isolates from human patients in France displaying different levels of resistance to quinolones or fluoroquinolones were studied for resistance mechanisms to these antimicrobial agents. All resistant isolates carried either single or multiple target gene mutations (i.e., in gyrA, gyrB, or parC) correlating with the resistance levels observed. Active efflux, through upregulation of multipartite efflux systems, has also been previously reported as contributing mechanism for other serovars. Therefore, we investigated also the occurrence of non-target gene mutations in regulatory regions affecting efflux pump expression. However, no mutation was detected in these regions in both Typhi and Paratyphi isolates of this study. Besides, no overexpression of the major efflux systems was observed for these isolates. Nevertheless, a large deletion of 2334 bp was identified in the acrS-acrE region of all S. Typhi strains but which did not affect the resistance phenotype. As being specific to S. Typhi, this deletion could be used for specific molecular detection purposes. In conclusion, the different levels of quinolone or FQ resistance in both S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi A seem to rely only on target modifications.
PMCID: PMC3902205  PMID: 24478769
Salmonella; ciprofloxacin; transcriptional regulatory genes; acrS; efflux pumps
21.  Characterization of the Staphylococcal Cassette Chromosome Composite Island of Staphylococcus haemolyticus SH32, a Methicillin-Resistant Clinical Isolate from China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87346.
Staphylococcal cassette chromosome (SCC) elements contribute considerably to virulence and resistance to antibiotic agents in staphylococci. SCC elements in coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) are highly diverse and there is evidence suggesting that they serve as a reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). However, only a small number of SCC elements have been characterized in CoNS and their exact roles in the emergence and evolution of MRSA remain to be demonstrated. Here, we determined the structure of an SCC composite island (CISH32) found in the clinical Staphylococcus haemolyticus isolate SH32 by whole-genome DNA sequencing. CISH32 was 48 kb in length and mainly composed of two imperfect SCC elements, namely (i) a ΨSCCmec(SH32) part containing a class C1 mec gene complex but lacking ccr genes and (ii) a SCCSH32 part with a ccrA5B3 gene complex but lacking mec genes. In addition, CISH32 contained a type III restriction-modification system and several resistance loci, for example genes conferring resistance to cadmium and arsenic. ΨSCCmec(SH32) is almost entirely identical to a pseudo SCCmec element found in S. haemolyticus WCH1 and shares pronounced sequence similarity to a ΨSCCmec element of S. haemolyticus JCSC1435. However, staphylococci other than S. haemolyticus, including S. aureus and S. epidermidis, contain homologs of SCCSH32 that are more similar to SCCSH32 than those elements found in S. haemolyticus, suggesting that CISH32 of S. haemolyticus SH32 was assembled in recent evolutionary events. Moreover, the composite structure of CISH32 indicates that the detection of class C1 mec and ccrA5B3 gene complexes in S. haemolyticus does not always indicate the existence of a UT9-type SCCmec element, which has remained questionable.
PMCID: PMC3900703  PMID: 24466348
22.  Grimontia indica AK16T, sp. nov., Isolated from a Seawater Sample Reports the Presence of Pathogenic Genes Similar to Vibrio Genus 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85590.
Grimontia indica strain AK16T sp. nov. is the type strain of G. indica sp. nov. a new species within the genus Grimontia. This strain, whose genome is described here, was isolated from seawater sample collected from southeast coast of Palk Bay, India. G. indica AK16T is a Gram-negative, facultative aerobic rod shaped bacterium. There are only two other strains in the genus Grimontia one of which, Grimontia hollisae CIP 101886T, is a reported human pathogen isolated from human stool sample while the other, ‘Grimontia marina IMCC5001T’, was isolated from a seawater sample. As compared to the pathogenic strain Grimontia hollisae CIP 101886T, the strain AK16T lacks some genes for pathogenesis like the accessory colonization factors AcfA and AcfD, which are required for the colonization of the bacterium in the host body. While it carries some pathogenesis genes like OmpU, which are related to pathogenesis of Vibrio strains. This suggests that the life cycle of AK16T may include some pathogenic interactions with marine animal(s), or it may be an opportunistic pathogen. Study of the Grimontia genus is important because of the severe pathogenic traits exhibited by a member of the genus with only three species reported in total. The study will provide some vital information which may be useful in future clinical studies on the genus.
PMCID: PMC3897461  PMID: 24465608
23.  Regional Variation in Pig Farmer Awareness and Actions Regarding Japanese Encephalitis in Nepal: Implications for Public Health Education 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85399.
Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a mosquito-borne zoonotic disease that has pigs as the major amplifying hosts. It is the most important cause of viral encephalitis in people in Nepal and is spreading in its geographic distribution in that country. Pig farming is increasing in Nepal due to reducing cultural biases against pigs and government programs to support pig farming for poverty alleviation. Major strategies for JE prevention and control include education, vector control, and immunization of people and pigs. This study used a survey of 400 pig farmers in 4 areas of Nepal with different JE and pig farming histories to explore regional variations in farmer awareness and actions towards JE, the association of awareness and actions with farm and farmer variables, and the implications of these associations for public health education. Exposure to JE risk factors was common across pig farms and pig farming districts but there were significant district level differences in knowledge and practices related to on-farm JE risk reduction. Social factors such as literacy, gender, and cultural practices were associated with farmer attitudes, knowledge and practices for JE control. JE vaccine uptake was almost non-existent and mosquito control steps were inconsistently applied across all 4 districts. Income was not a determining factor of the differences, but all farmers were very poor. The low uptake of vaccine and lack of infrastructure or financial capacity to house pigs indoors or away from people suggest that farmer personal protection should be a priority target for education in Nepal. This study re-enforces the need to attack root causes of people’s personal disease prevention behaviours and take into account local variation in needs and capacities when designing health or agriculture education programs.
PMCID: PMC3887053  PMID: 24416402
24.  Proteomic Analysis of a NAP1 Clostridium difficile Clinical Isolate Resistant to Metronidazole 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e82622.
Clostridium difficile is an anaerobic, Gram-positive bacterium that has been implicated as the leading cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Metronidazole is currently the first-line treatment for mild to moderate C. difficile infections. Our laboratory isolated a strain of C. difficile with a stable resistance phenotype to metronidazole. A shotgun proteomics approach was used to compare differences in the proteomes of metronidazole-resistant and -susceptible isolates.
Methodology/Principal Findings
NAP1 C. difficile strains CD26A54_R (Met-resistant), CD26A54_S (reduced- susceptibility), and VLOO13 (Met-susceptible) were grown to mid-log phase, and spiked with metronidazole at concentrations 2 doubling dilutions below the MIC. Peptides from each sample were labeled with iTRAQ and subjected to 2D-LC-MS/MS analysis. In the absence of metronidazole, higher expression was observed of some proteins in C. difficile strains CD26A54_S and CD26A54_R that may be involved with reduced susceptibility or resistance to metronidazole, including DNA repair proteins, putative nitroreductases, and the ferric uptake regulator (Fur). After treatment with metronidazole, moderate increases were seen in the expression of stress-related proteins in all strains. A moderate increase was also observed in the expression of the DNA repair protein RecA in CD26A54_R.
This study provided an in-depth proteomic analysis of a stable, metronidazole-resistant C. difficile isolate. The results suggested that a multi-factorial response may be associated with high level metronidazole-resistance in C. difficile, including the possible roles of altered iron metabolism and/or DNA repair.
PMCID: PMC3882210  PMID: 24400070
25.  Comparison of ESBL – And AmpC Producing Enterobacteriaceae and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Isolated from Migratory and Resident Population of Rooks (Corvus frugilegus) in Austria 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84048.
In order to test whether rooks (Corvus frugilegus) represent good indicators for the potential circulation of antibiotics in their native habitat, two populations with different migratory behavior were tested for the presence of beta-lactamase producing Enterobacteriaceae and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In all, 54 and 102 samples of fresh feces of a migratory and a resident population were investigated. A total of 24 and 3 cefotaxime-resistant enterobacterial isolates were obtained from the migratory and resident population, respectively. In these isolates CTX-M-1 (n = 15), CTX-M-3 (n = 3), and CTX-M-15 (n = 3) genes were detected. TEM-1 and OXA-1 were associated with CTX-M in 3 and 2 isolates, respectively. In two E. coli isolates CMY-2 could be detected, where from one isolate displayed an overexpression of chromosomal AmpC as well. Among E. coli isolates the most common phylogenetic group was A (n = 11) and ST1683 (n = 5). In one E. coli of B2-ST131 the rfbO25b locus was detected. Three Enterobacter isolates were stably derepressed AmpC-producers. In five samples of the migratory population, PVL positive MRSA could be isolated. Two isolates were typed SCCmec IVa, spa type t127, and ST1. Three isolates carried a SCCmec type IVc, with spa type t852 and ST22. The highly significant difference of the occurrence of antibiotic resistance between the migratory population from eastern Europe compared to resident population in our study indicates that rooks may be good indicator species for the evaluation of environmental contamination with antibiotic resistant bacteria, especially due to their ecology, foraging behavior and differing migratory behavior.
PMCID: PMC3877145  PMID: 24391878

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