Horizontal transfer of theblaNDM-1 gene toPseudomonas aeruginosaandAcinetobacter baumanniiin biofilms

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Horizontal gene transfer has contributed to the global spread of the blaNDM-1 gene. Multiple studies have demonstrated plasmid transfer of blaNDM-1 between Gram-negative bacteria, primarily Enterobacteriaceae species, but conjugational transfer of natural blaNDM-1 plasmids from Enterobacteriaceae into Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii has not previously been shown. As P. aeruginosa and A. baumannii are both typically strong biofilm formers, transfer of natural blaNDM-1 plasmids could potentially occur more readily in this environment. To determine whether natural blaNDM-1 plasmids could transfer to P. aeruginosa or A. baumannii in biofilms, three clinical and environmental Enterobacteriaceae strains carrying NDM-1-encoding plasmids of different incompatibility types were mated with E. coli J53, producing E. coli J53- blaNDM-1 transconjugants. Subsequently, dual-species biofilms were created using the E. coli J53 transconjugants as plasmid donors and either P. aeruginosa or A. baumannii as recipients. Biofilm transfer of NDM-encoding plasmids to P. aeruginosa and A. baumannii was successful from one and two E. coli J53- blaNDM-1 transconjugants, respectively. This demonstrates the potential for the spread of blaNDM-1, genes to P. aeruginosa and A. baumannii in clinical and environmental settings.

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