Transfer of mupirocin resistance from Staphylococcus haemolyticus clinical strains to Staphylococcus aureus through conjugative and mobilizable plasmids

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Abstract

Coagulase-negative staphylococci are thought to act as reservoirs of antibiotic resistance genes that can be transferred to Staphylococcus aureus, thus hindering the combat of this bacterium. In this work, we analyzed the presence of plasmids conferring resistance to the antibiotic mupirocin—widely used to treat and prevent S. aureus infections in hospital environments—in nosocomial S. haemolyticus strains. About 12% of the 75 strains tested were resistant to mupirocin, and this phenotype was correlated with the presence of plasmids. These plasmids were shown to be diverse, being either conjugative or mobilizable, and capable of transferring mupirocin resistance to S. aureus. Our findings reinforce that S. haemolyticus, historically and mistakenly considered as a less important pathogen, is a reservoir of resistance genes which can be transferred to other bacteria, such as S. aureus, emphasizing the necessity of more effective strategies to detect and combat this emergent opportunistic pathogen.

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