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Investigating possible association between multidrug resistance and isolate origin with some virulence factors of Escherichia coli strains isolated from infant faeces and fresh green vegetables

Haddadin, R.N., Assaf, A.M., Homsi, A., Collier, P.J., Shehabi, A.
Journal of applied microbiology 2019 v.127 no.1 pp. 88-98
DNA fingerprinting, Escherichia coli, antibiotic resistance, bacteria, biofilm, colorimetry, enterobactin, enterotoxins, feces, genes, genetic relationships, gentian violet, heat stability, human diseases, humans, multiple drug resistance, polymerase chain reaction, repetitive sequences, siderophores, vegetables, virulence
AIMS: In this study, the association between multidrug resistance (MDR) and the expression of some virulence factors were evaluated in Escherichia coli strains isolated from infant faeces and fresh green vegetables. The effect of isolate origin on associated virulence factors was evaluated. In addition, genetic fingerprinting of a sample of these isolates (10 isolates from each group) was studied in order to detect any genetic relatedness among these isolates. METHODS AND RESULTS: Escherichia coli isolates were divided into four groups based on their origin (human faeces or plant) and their antibiotic resistance (multiresistance or susceptible). PCR was used to investigate heat‐labile and heat‐stable enterotoxin genes, and four siderophore genes (aerobactin, enterobactin, salmochelin and yersiniabactin). Genetic fingerprinting of the isolates was performed using enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus PCR. Siderophore production was measured by a colorimetric method. Biofilm formation was evaluated by a crystal violet assay. The results of the study showed that the expression of MDR is not significantly associated with an increase in these virulence factors or with biofilm formation. However, the origin of isolates had a significant association with siderophore gene availability and consequently on the concentrations of siderophores released. Genetic fingerprinting indicated that human and plant isolates have the same clonal origin, suggesting their circulation among humans and plants. CONCLUSION: Antibiotic‐susceptible strains of E. coli may be as virulent as MDR strains. Results also suggest that the environment can play a potential role in selection of strains with specific virulence factors. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: Antibiotic‐susceptible isolates of Escherichia coli from plant or human origin can be as virulent as the multidrug resistance (MDR) ones. Genetic relatedness was detected among the isolates of plant and human origin, indicating the circulation of these bacteria among human and plants. This could imply a potential role for environmental antimicrobial resistant bacteria in human infection.