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Transfer of antibiotic resistance from Enterococcus faecium of fermented meat origin to Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria innocua

Transfer of antibiotic resistance from Enterococcus faecium of fermented meat origin to Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria innocua

Letters in Applied Microbiology 62(4): 304-310

Listeria monocytogenes is an important foodborne pathogen that can cause infection in children, pregnant women, the immunocompromised and the elderly. Antibiotic resistance in this species would represent a significant public health problem since the organism has a high fatality/case ratio and resistance may contribute to failure of therapeutic treatment. This study was designed to explore whether the in vitro transferability of antibiotic resistance from enterococci to Listeria spp. could occur. It was found that 2/8 Listeria strains were able to acquire tetracycline resistance from Enterococcus faecium. Listeria monocytogenes GLM-2 acquired the resistance determinant tet(M) and additional streptomycin resistance through in vitro mating with Ent. faecium S27 isolated from commercial fermented dry sausage. Similarly, Listeria innocua became more resistant to tetracycline, but the genetic basis for this change was not confirmed. It has been suggested that enterococci may transfer antibiotic resistance genes via transposons to Listeria spp., and this may explain, in part, the origin of their antibiotic resistance. Thus, the presence of enterococci in food should not be ignored since they may actively contribute to enhanced antibiotic resistance of L. monocytogenes and other pathogens. Acquisition of antibiotic resistance by pathogenic bacteria in the absence of antibiotic pressure represents an unquantified threat to human health. In the present work resistance to tetracycline and streptomycin were transferred by nonplasmid-based conjugation from Enterococcus faecium isolated from fermented sausage to Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria innocua. Thus, natural transfer of antibiotic resistance to Listeria strains may occur in the future which reinforces the concern about the safety of enterococcal strains present in foods.

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Accession: 059156781

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PMID: 26854329

DOI: 10.1111/lam.12553

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