Characterization of mcr-1-Harboring Plasmids from Pan Drug-Resistant Escherichia coli Strains Isolated from Retail Raw Chicken in South Korea
A number of studies from different countries have characterized mcr-1-harboring plasmids isolated from food; however, nothing has been reported about it in South Korea. In this study, we report the characterization of mcr-1 plasmids from pan drug-resistant (PDR) Escherichia coli strains isolated from retail food in the country. Colistin-resistant E. coli strains were isolated from retail raw chicken, and PCR was carried out to detect the mcr-1 gene. Whole genome sequencing of the mcr-1-positive strains was performed for further characterization. The results of whole genome sequencing revealed that all mcr-1 plasmids belonged to the IncI2 type. In addition to the mcr-1 plasmids, all of the isolates also carried additional plasmids possessing multiple antibiotic resistance genes, and the PDR was mediated by resistant plasmids except for fluoroquinolone resistance resulting from mutations in gyrA and parC. Interestingly, the mcr-1 plasmids were transferred by conjugation to other pathogenic strains including enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), Salmonella, and Klebsiella at the frequencies of 10−3−10−6, 10−2−10−5, 10−4−10−5, 10−4−10−6, and 10−5−10−6, respectively. The results showed that mcr-1 plasmids can be easily transmitted to pathogenic bacteria by conjugation.