In Vivo Transfer and Microevolution of Avian Native IncA/C2blaNDM-1-Carrying Plasmid pRH-1238 during a Broiler Chicken Infection Study.
The emergence and spread of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) in wildlife and livestock animals pose an important safety concern for public health. With our in vivo broiler chicken infection study, we investigated the transfer and experimental microevolution of the blaNDM-1-carrying IncA/C2 plasmid (pRH-1238) introduced by avian native Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Corvallis without inducing antibiotic selection pressure. We evaluated the dependency of the time point of inoculation on donor (S Corvallis [12-SA01738]) and plasmid-free Salmonella recipient [d-tartrate-fermenting (d-Ta+) S Paratyphi B (13-SA01617), referred to here as S Paratyphi B (d-Ta+)] excretion by quantifying their excretion dynamics. Using plasmid profiling by S1 nuclease-restricted pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, we gained insight into the variability of the native plasmid content among S Corvallis reisolates as well as plasmid acquisition in S Paratyphi B (d-Ta+) and the enterobacterial gut microflora. Whole-genome sequencing enabled us to gain an in-depth insight into the microevolution of plasmid pRH-1238 in S Corvallis and enterobacterial recipient isolates. Our study revealed that the fecal excretion of avian native carbapenemase-producing S Corvallis is significantly higher than that of S Paratyphi (d-Ta+) and is not hampered by S Paratyphi (d-Ta+). Acquisition of pRH-1238 in other Enterobacteriaceae and several events of plasmid pRH-1238 transfer to different Escherichia coli sequence types and Klebsiella pneumoniae demonstrated an interspecies broad host range. Regardless of the microevolutionary structural deletions in pRH-1238, the single carbapenem resistance marker blaNDM-1 was maintained on pRH-1238 throughout the trial. Furthermore, we showed the importance of the gut E. coli population as a vector of pRH-1238. In a potential scenario of the introduction of NDM-1-producing S Corvallis into a broiler flock, the pRH-1238 plasmid could persist and spread to a broad host range even in the absence of antibiotic pressure.