Bacteriophage-mediated transduction of antibiotic resistance in enterococci

Lett Appl Microbiol. 2011 Jun;52(6):559-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-765X.2011.03043.x. Epub 2011 Mar 28.


Aims: Temperate bacteriophages are bacterial viruses that transfer genetic information between bacteria. This phenomenon is known as transduction, and it is important in acquisition of bacterial virulence genes and antimicrobial resistance determinants. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the role of bacteriophages in gene transfer (antibiotic resistance) in enterococci.

Methods and results: Three bacteriophages from environmental samples isolated on pig host strains of Enterococcus gallinarum and Enterococcus faecalis were evaluated in transduction experiments. Antibiotic resistance was transferred from Ent. gallinarum to Ent. faecalis (tetracycline resistance) and from Ent. faecalis to Enterococcus faecium, Enterococcus hirae/durans and Enterococcus casseliflavus (gentamicin resistance).

Conclusions: Bacteriophages play a role in transfer of antibiotic resistance determinants in enterococci.

Significance and impact of the study: This study confirms previous suggestions on transduction in enterococci, in particular on interspecies transduction. Interspecies transduction is significant because it widens the range of recipients involved in antimicrobial resistance transfer.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteriophages / genetics*
  • DNA Viruses / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial*
  • Enterococcus / drug effects*
  • Enterococcus / genetics
  • Enterococcus / virology*
  • Enterococcus faecalis / drug effects
  • Enterococcus faecalis / genetics
  • Enterococcus faecalis / virology
  • Enterococcus faecium / drug effects
  • Enterococcus faecium / genetics
  • Enterococcus faecium / virology
  • Gentamicins / pharmacology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Tetracycline / pharmacology
  • Tetracycline Resistance
  • Transduction, Genetic*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Gentamicins
  • Tetracycline