Class 1 and Class 2 Integrons in Poultry Carcasses from Broiler House and Poultry Processing Environments

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Abstract:

Integrons have been identified as major genetic contributors to the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria. The objective of this study was to examine the prevalence of integrons in poultry processing at the broiler house and in processing plants. Class 1 and class 2 integrons were found throughout the processing environment. Of the two classes of integrons, class 1 was the most prevalent in all processing areas. The levels of both classes of integrons decreased from the farm to the processing plant. Within the chiller tank in the processing plant, the persistence of these sequences appears to be related to the free chlorine concentration of the chiller tank water. The variable regions of the amplified integrons showed size diversity (from 680 to 2,000 bp), suggesting diversity in types of antibiotic-resistance–coding gene cassettes. The presence of the class 1 and class 2 integrons in the chlorinated chiller tank suggests that these sequences are capable of withstanding this critical step in the reduction of microbial loads on poultry carcasses. The persistence of the integron gene sequences on the farm and throughout processing highlights the stability of these transmissible antibiotic-resistance–coding nucleotide sequences and their potential role as reservoirs of antibiotic-resistance–coding genetic elements within the poultry rearing and processing environments.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Food Safety and Environmental Microbiology Program, Department of Poultry Science, Texas A&M University, 418D Kleberg Center, MS 2472, College Station, Texas 77843-2472 2: U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, College Station, Texas 77845 3: U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, Athens, Georgia 30605, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2003

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