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Comparison of antibiotic resistance and copper tolerance of Enterococcus spp. and Lactobacillus spp. isolated from piglets before and after weaning

Zou, Xueting, Weng, Mengwei, Ji, Xu, Guo, Rong, Zheng, Weijiang, Yao, Wen
The journal of microbiology 2017 v.55 no.9 pp. 703-710
Enterococcus, Lactobacillus, agar, ampicillin, antibiotic resistance, chloramphenicol, copper, copper sulfate, enrofloxacin, farms, feces, lactating females, lactation, livestock and meat industry, minimum inhibitory concentration, mothers, phenotypic correlation, piglets, sows, streptomycin, suckling, vancomycin, weaning, China
In China, antimicrobials and copper are used extensively as growth-promoting agents for piglets. This study aimed to characterize the role of in-feed copper in the emergence of copper-tolerant and antibiotic-resistant Enterococcus and Lactobacillus isolates in Chinese pig farms. Feces of the same eight piglets from four litters at 7 and 55 days old and their mothers were traced in order to isolate Enterococcus spp. and Lactobacillus spp.. The minimum inhibitory concentrations of 10 antimicrobials and copper sulfate were determined using an agar dilution method. The feed levels of Cu²⁺ for lactating sows, suckling piglets, and weaned piglets were 6, 177, and 18 mg/kg, respectively. All the 136 Enterococcus isolates were sensitive to vancomycin; and the resistance rates to penicillin, enrofloxacin, and high level streptomycin resistance increased significantly after weaning. For the 155 Lactobacillus isolates, the resistance rates to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, tetracycline, and enrofloxacin were significantly higher in weaned piglets. The ratios of copper tolerant Enterococcus and Lactobacillus isolates both increased significantly after weaning (P < 0.05). A phenotypic correlation was observed after classifying the isolates into two groups (CuSO₄ MIC₅₀ < 16 or ≧16 for enterococci; CuSO₄ MIC₅₀ < 12 or ≧12 for lactobacilli) and comparing the antimicrobial-resistant percentage of two groups. On species level, a significant increase of E. faecalis to enrofloxacin was observed in line with the increase of copper MIC (P < 0.05). The findings revealed the changes of the antibiotic resistance and copper tolerance level of enterococci and lactobacilli between suckling and weaned piglets and demonstrated that there might be a strong association between in-feed copper and increased antibiotic resistance in enterococci and lactobacilli in Chinese intensive swine farms.