Porcine faecal waste is a serious environmental pollutant. Carriage of antimicrobial-resistance genes (ARGs) and virulence-associated genes (VAGs), and the zoonotic potential of commensal Escherichia coli from swine are largely unknown. Furthermore, little is known about the role of commensal E. coli as contributors to the mobilization of ARGs between food animals and the environment. Here, we report whole-genome sequence analysis of 103 class 1 integron-positive E. coli from the faeces of healthy pigs from two commercial production facilities in New South Wales, Australia. Most strains belonged to phylogroups A and B1, and carried VAGs linked with extraintestinal infection in humans. The 103 strains belonged to 37 multilocus sequence types and clonal complex 10 featured prominently. Seventeen ARGs were detected and 97 % (100/103) of strains carried three or more ARGs. Heavy-metal-resistance genes merA, cusA and terA were also common. IS26 was observed in 98 % (101/103) of strains and was often physically associated with structurally diverse class 1 integrons that carried unique genetic features, which may be tracked. This study provides, to our knowledge, the first detailed genomic analysis and point of reference for commensal E. coli of porcine origin in Australia, facilitating tracking of specific lineages and the mobile resistance genes they carry.
Keywords: IS26; animal E. coli; antimicrobial resistance; commensal E. coli; microbial genomic epidemiology; virulence.