Practical implications of erythromycin resistance gene diversity on surveillance and monitoring of resistance

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Use of antibiotics in human and animal medicine has applied selective pressure for the global dissemination of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Therefore, it is of interest to develop strategies to mitigate the continued amplification and transmission of resistance genes in environmental reservoirs such as farms, hospitals and watersheds. However, the efficacy of mitigation strategies is difficult to evaluate because it is unclear which resistance genes are important to monitor, and which primers to use to detect those genes. Here, we evaluated the diversity of one type of macrolide antibiotic resistance gene (erm) in one type of environment (manure) to determine which primers would be most informative to use in a mitigation study of that environment. We analyzed all known erm genes and assessed the ability of previously published erm primers to detect the diversity. The results showed that all known erm resistance genes group into 66 clusters, and 25 of these clusters (40%) can be targeted with primers found in the literature. These primers can target 74%-85% of the erm gene diversity in the manures analyzed.

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