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The Science of the total environment

Occurrence of fluoroquinolones and fluoroquinolone-resistance genes in the aquatic environment.


PMID 23291652

Abstract

Fluoroquinolones (FQs) have been detected in aquatic environments in several countries. Long-term exposure to low levels of antimicrobial agents provides selective pressure, which might alter the sensitivity of bacteria to antimicrobial agents in the environment. Here, we examined FQ levels and the resistance of Escherichia coli (E. coli) to FQs by phenotyping and genotyping. In the aquatic environment in Osaka, Japan, ciprofloxacin, enoxacin, enfloxacin, lomefloxacin, norfloxacin, and ofloxacin were detected in concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 570 ng L(-1). FQ-resistant E. coli were also found. Although no obvious correlation was detected between the concentration of FQs and the presence of FQ-resistant E. coli, FQ-resistant E. coli were detected in samples along with FQs, particularly ciprofloxacin and ofloxacin. Most FQ-resistant E. coli carried mutations in gyrA, parC, and parE in quinolone resistance-determining regions. No mutations in gyrB were detected in any isolates. Amino acid changes in these isolates were quite similar to those in clinical isolates. Six strains carried the plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance determinant qnrS1 and expressed low susceptibility to ciprofloxacin and nalidixic acid: the minimum inhibitory concentrations ranged from 0.25 μg mL(-1) for ciprofloxacin, and from 8 to 16 μg mL(-1) for nalidixic acid. This finding confirmed that plasmids containing qnr genes themselves did not confer full resistance to quinolones. Because plasmids are responsible for much of the horizontal gene transfer, these genes may transfer and spread in the environment. To our knowledge, this is the first report of plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance determinant qnrS1 in the aquatic environment, and this investigation provides baseline data on antimicrobial resistance profiles in the Osaka area.

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