Tetracycline-resistance genes in Gram-negative isolates from estuarine waters

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To investigate the diversity and dissemination of tetracycline resistance genes in isolates from estuarine waters.

Methods and Results

Forty-two out of 164 multi-resistant isolates previously obtained were resistant or less-susceptible to tetracycline, as evaluated by the disc diffusion method. Minimal inhibitory concentration for resistant bacteria ranged from 16 to 256 mg l−1. Screening of tet genes by polymerase chain reaction showed that 88% of the isolates carried at least one of the genes tested, namely tet(A) (present in 13 isolates), tet(B) (present in 13 isolates), tet(C) (present in 3 isolates), tet(D) (present in 1 isolate), tet(E) (present in 6 isolates) and tet(M) (present in 1 isolate). One isolate carried tet(A) and tet(M). To our knowledge, this study presents the first description of a tet(D) gene in Morganella morganii. Hybridization revealed that tet genes were plasmid-located in 31% of the isolates. Those isolates were included as donors in conjugation experiments and 38% transferred tetracycline resistance.


A considerable diversity of tet genes was detected in the estuary. Frequently, these genes were associated with plasmids and could be transferred to Escherichia coli.

Significance and Impact of the Study

The results presented provide further evidence of the role played by estuarine reservoirs in antibiotic resistance maintenance and dissemination.

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