Prevalence of Plasmid-Associated Tetracycline Resistance Genes in Multidrug-Resistant Escherichia coli Strains Isolated from Environmental, Animal and Human Samples in Panama

Antibiotics (Basel). 2023 Jan 31;12(2):280. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics12020280.


Antimicrobial resistance bacteria are nowadays ubiquitous. Its presence has been reported in almost every type of source, from water for agricultural and recreative use, water distribution pipes, and wastewater, to food, fomites, and clinical samples. Enterobacteriaceae, especially Escherichia coli, are not the exception, showing an increased resistance to several antibiotics, causing a global health and economic burden. Therefore, the monitoring of fecal microbiota is important because it is present in numerous reservoirs where gene transfer between commensal and virulent bacteria can take place, representing a potential source of resistant E. coli. In this work, antibiotic resistance profiles of 150 E. coli isolates from environmental, animal, and human samples, collected in three rural areas in Panama, were analyzed. A total of 116 isolates were resistant to at least one of the nine antibiotics tested. Remarkably, almost 100% of these exhibited resistance to tetracycline. Plasmid-associated tetA and tetB genes were detected in 42.86% of the isolates analyzed, tetA being the most prevalent. These results suggest that tetracycline resistance would be used as a convenient indicator of genetic horizontal transfer within a community.

Keywords: E. coli; multiple antibiotic resistance; tetA; tetB; tetracycline.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.