Carriage of antibiotic-resistant foodborne pathogens by food production animals is one of many contributors to treatment failure in health care settings, and it necessitates an integrated approach to investigate the carriage of resistant pathogens harboring integrons in food-producing animals.
Escherichia coli isolates with reduced susceptibility to tetracycline antibiotics ( n = 92) were tested for associations between carriage of class1 integrons, phylogenetic group affiliation and tetracycline resistance determinants using the MIC method, PFGE analysis, PCR and sequencing.
Phylogroups B1 and A were the most common (58.7 and 19.6%, respectively), followed by groups D (20.7%) and B2 (1.1%). All isolates carried at least one of the tet genes examined. In addition, 88 (95.7%) of all tetracycline-resistant isolates carried tet(A) or tet(B), while 47 (51.1%) and 41 (44.6%) harbored only tet(A) or tet(B), respectively. Likewise, isolates harboring these genes had a higher chance ( P < 0.05) of carrying class 1 integrons. Of the tested isolates, 38 (41.3%) carried the intI1 gene. Classical integrons with complete genes ( sul1 and qacE∆1) at the 3′-CS were recognized in 27 isolates. PCR screening and subsequent sequencing demonstrated that 84.2% (32/38) of the intI1-positive isolates harbored resistance gene cassettes. Overall, seven gene cassettes were identified, either solely or combined with another gene cassette. The most common gene was aadA1 (10 isolates), followed by a combination of aadA1-dfrA1 (seven isolates), aadA1-dfrA12 (six isolates) and aadA1-aadA2-dfrA12 (three isolates). Genetic typing using PFGE showed minimum clonal relatedness with 28 different clusters and 12–25 discernible DNA fragments.