Objectives: Biocides are widely used to prevent infection. We aimed to determine whether exposure of Salmonella to various biocides could act as a driver of antibiotic resistance.
Methods: Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium was exposed to four biocides with differing modes of action. Antibiotic-resistant mutants were selected during exposure to all biocides and characterized phenotypically and genotypically to identify mechanisms of resistance.
Results: All biocides tested selected MDR mutants with decreased antibiotic susceptibility; these occurred randomly throughout the experiments. Mutations that resulted in de-repression of the multidrug efflux pump AcrAB-TolC were seen in MDR mutants. A novel mutation in rpoA was also selected and contributed to the MDR phenotype. Other mutants were highly resistant to both quinolone antibiotics and the biocide triclosan.
Conclusions: This study shows that exposure of bacteria to biocides can select for antibiotic-resistant mutants and this is mediated by clinically relevant mechanisms of resistance prevalent in human pathogens.
Keywords: MDR; disinfectant; efflux.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.