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Tetracycline Resistance Associated with Commensal Bacteria from Representative Ready-to-Consume Deli and Restaurant Foods

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Proper knowledge of antibiotic resistance (AR) dissemination is essential for effective mitigation. This study examined the profiles of tetracycline-resistant (Tetr) commensal bacteria from representative ready-to-consume food samples from salad bars at local grocery stores and restaurants. Out of 900 Tetr isolates examined, 158 (17.6%) carried one or more of tetM, tetL, tetS, and tetK genes by conventional PCR, 28 harbored more than one Tetr determinants. The most prevalent genotype was tetM, which was detected in 70.9% of the AR gene carriers, followed by tetL (31.6%), tetS (13.9%), and tetK (2.5%). Identified AR gene carriers included Enterococcus, Lactococcus, Staphylococcus, Brochothrix, Carnobacterium, Stenotrophomonas, Pseudomonas, and Sphingobacterium, by 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. AR determinants were successfully transmitted, and led to resistance in Streptococcus mutans via natural gene transformation and Enterococcus faecalis via electroporation, suggesting the functionality and mobility of the AR genes from the food commensal bacteria. In addition, the AR traits in many isolates are quite stable, even in the absence of the selective pressure. The identification of new commensal carriers for representative AR genes revealed the involvement of a broad spectrum of bacteria in the horizontal transmission of AR genes. Meanwhile, the spectrum of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria differed from the spectrum of the total bacteria (by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis) associated with the food items. Our data revealed a common avenue in AR exposure and will assist in proper risk assessment and the development of comprehensive mitigation strategies to effectively combat AR.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science, The Ohio State University, 2015 Fyffe Court, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA 2: Department of Food Science and, Department of Microbiology, The Ohio State University, 2015 Fyffe Court, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.

Publication date: October 1, 2010

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