Molecular characterization of tetracycline-resistant genes and integrons from avirulent strains of Escherichia coli isolated from catfish

Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2009 Jun;6(5):553-9. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2008.0204.


A study was undertaken to investigate the occurrence of tetracycline-resistant genes and to characterize the integrons present in Escherichia coli isolated from catfish. Sixty-three tetracycline-resistant E. coli strains were isolated from the intestinal contents of 407 farm-raised catfish. All strains were resistant to multiple antibiotics. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay detected tetA in the DNA of 15 of 63 (25.0%) isolates by amplifying a PCR amplicon measuring 957 bp. Oligonucleotide primers targeting a 436-bp region of tetB successfully amplified a PCR amplicon from 47 of 63 (77.0%) isolates, indicating that tetB was predominant. Oligonucleotide primers specific for tetC amplified a 589-bp PCR amplicon from 3 of 63 (5%) isolates. Eleven (17.0%) of the isolates contained both tetA and tetB genes. Class I integrons amplified from the genomic DNA of 14 of 63 (22.0%) isolates measured 1.6 and 1.8 kb. Sequence analysis of the 1.6 kb integrons indicated the presence of three different gene cassettes: a dfrA12, conferring resistance to trimethoprim; an open reading frame, orfF, a hypothetical protein of unknown function; and aadA2, conferring resistance to aminoglycosides. Sequence analysis of the 1.8-kb integron indicated the presence of dfrA17 and aadA5. PCR assays for the detection of the six predominant virulence genes failed to amplify any genes from the genomic DNA. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis using XbaI identified 16 distinct macro restriction patterns among the 63 isolates. The dendrogram analysis indicated that the DNA from 4 of 16 isolates had a similarity index of 90.0%. Our results indicate that the use of oxytetracycline and Romet 30 (sulfadimethoxine and ormetoprim) in farm-raised catfish may select for multiple antibiotic-resistant E. coli that could serve as a reservoir of tetracycline, trimethoprim, and aminoglycoside resistance genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catfishes / microbiology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Integrons / genetics*
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tetracycline Resistance / genetics*


  • DNA, Bacterial