Antimicrobial resistance and resistance genes in Escherichia coli isolated from retail meat purchased in Alberta, Canada

Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2012 Jul;9(7):625-31. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2011.1078. Epub 2012 Jun 25.


This study analyzed antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and resistance genes in generic Escherichia coli isolated from retail meat samples purchased (2007-2008) in Alberta, Canada, and determined potential associations between resistance phenotypes and resistance genes with relation to the meat types. A total of 422 E. coli isolates from retail chicken, turkey, beef, and pork meats were tested for antimicrobial susceptibility. Multiplex PCRs were used to detect major resistance genes for tetracyclines [tet(A), tet(B), tet(C)], sulfonamides (sul1, sul2, sul3), aminoglycosides (strA/B, aadA, aadB, aac(3)IV, aphA1, aphA2), and β-lactamase (bla(CMY-2), bla(TEM), bla(SHV), bla(PSE-1)). Resistance to ciprofloxacin was not found in any isolate. Overall resistances to clinically important antimicrobials amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (16.8% of isolates) and ceftriaxone (12.6% isolates) were observed. These resistances were observed more frequently (p<0.0001) in chicken-derived E. coli than those from the other meat types. Resistance to multiple antimicrobials (≥ 5) was found in more chicken derived E. coli (32%) than E. coli from other meat types. The β-lactamase genes of clinical importance, including bla(CMY-2) and bla(TEM), were found in about 18% of poultry-derived E. coli and in only 5% of ground beef. The bla(CMY-2) gene was more likely to be found in E. coli from chicken than turkey, beef, or pork meats. The tet(A) gene was associated with bla(CMY-2), whereas bla(CMY-2) and bla(TEM) genes were associated with strA/B genes. Resistance genes for tetracycline, sulfonamides, and aminoglycosides were associated with the phenotypic expression of resistance to unrelated classes of antimicrobials. These data suggest the prevalence of AMR and select resistance genes were higher in poultry-derived E. coli. The multiple associations found between AMR phenotypes and resistance genes suggest a complex nature of resistance in E. coli from retail meat, and hence the use of a single antimicrobial could result in the selection of resistant E. coli not only to the drug being used but to other unrelated classes of antimicrobials as well.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alberta
  • Aminoglycosides / pharmacology
  • Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate Combination / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Cattle / microbiology
  • Ceftriaxone / pharmacology
  • Chickens / microbiology
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification*
  • Logistic Models
  • Meat / microbiology*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Swine / microbiology
  • Tetracyclines / pharmacology
  • beta-Lactamases / pharmacology


  • Aminoglycosides
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Tetracyclines
  • Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate Combination
  • Ceftriaxone
  • beta-Lactamases