The gut of human harbors diverse commensal microbiota performing an array of beneficial role for the hosts. In the present study, the major commensal gut bacteria isolated by culturing methods from 15 children of moderate income families, aged between 10 and 24 months, were studied for their response to different antibiotics, and the molecular basis of drug resistance.
Of 122 bacterial colonies primarily selected from Luria–Bertani agar, bacterial genera confirmed by analytical profile index (API) 20E ® system included Escherichia as the predominant (52%) organism, followed by Enterobacter (16%), Pseudomonas (12%), Klebsiella (6%), Pantoea (6%), Vibrio (3%), and Citrobacter (3%); while Aeromonas and Raoultella were identified as the infrequently occurring genera. An estimated 11 and 22% of the E. coli isolates carried virulence marker genes stx-2 and eae, respectively. Antimicrobial susceptibility assay revealed 78% of the gut bacteria to be multidrug resistant (MDR) with highest resistance to erythromycin (96%), followed by ampicillin (63%), tetracycline (59%), azithromycin (53%), sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (43%), cefixime (39%), and ceftriaxone (33%). PCR assay results revealed 56% of the gut bacteria to possess gene cassette Class 1 integron; while 8, 17.5 and 6% of the strains carried tetracycline resistance-related genes tetA, tetB, and tetD, respectively. The macrolide (erythromycin and azithromycin) resistance marker genes mphA, ereB, and ermB were found in 28, 3 and 5% of bacterial isolates, respectively; while 26, 12, 17, 32, 7, 4 and 3% of the MDR bacterial isolates carried the extended spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-related genes e.g., bla TEM, bla SHV, bla CMY-9, bla CTX-M1, bla CTX-M2, bla CMY-2 and bla OXA respectively. Majority of the MDR gut bacteria harbored large plasmids [e.g., 140 MDa (43%), 105 MDa (30%), 90 MDa (14%)] carrying invasion and related antibiotic resistance marker genes.