IncHI1A plasmids potentially facilitate horizontal flow of antibiotic resistance genes to pathogens in microbial communities of urban residential sewage

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Horizontal gene transfer via plasmids is important for the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes among medically relevant pathogens. Specifically, the transfer of IncHI1A plasmids is believed to facilitate the spread of antibiotic resistance genes, such as carbapenemases, within the clinically important family Enterobacteriaceae. The microbial community of urban wastewater treatment plants has been shown to be highly permissive towards conjugal transfer of IncP1 plasmids. Here, we tracked the transfer of the P1 plasmid pB10 and the clinically relevant HI1A plasmid R27 in the microbial communities present in urban residential sewage entering full-scale wastewater treatment plants. We found that both plasmids readily transferred to these communities and that strains in the sewage were able to further disseminate them. Furthermore, R27 has a broad potential host range, but a low host divergence. Interestingly, although the majority of R27 transfer events were to members of Enterobacteriaceae, we found a subset of transfer events to other families, even other phyla. This indicates that HI1A plasmids facilitate horizontal gene transfer both within Enterobacteriaceae, but also across families of, in particular, Gammaproteobacteria, such as Moraxellaceae, Pseudomonadaceae and Shewanellaceae. pB10 displayed a similar potential host range to R27. In contrast to R27, pB10 had a high host divergence. By culture enrichment of the transconjugant communities, we show that sewage strains of Enterobacteriaceae and Aeromonadaceae can stably maintain R27 and pB10, respectively. Our results suggest that dissemination in the urban residual water system of HI1A plasmids may result in an accelerated acquisition of antibiotic resistance genes among pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1595-1608
Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Research areas

  • 16S rRNA, antibiotic resistance, horizontal gene transfer, microbial ecology, plasmids, wastewater treatments plants

ID: 298735225