Phenotypic and Genotypic Properties of Fluoroquinolone-Resistant, qnr-Carrying Escherichia Coli Isolated from the German Food Chain in 2017
Fluoroquinolones are the highest priority, critically important antimicrobial agents. Resistance development can occur via different mechanisms, with plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance (PMQR) being prevalent in the livestock and food area. Especially, qnr genes, commonly located on mobile genetic elements, are major drivers for the spread of resistance determinants against fluoroquinolones. We investigated the prevalence and characteristics of qnr-positive Escherichia (E.) coli obtained from different monitoring programs in Germany in 2017. Furthermore, we aimed to evaluate commonalities of qnr-carrying plasmids in E. coli. We found qnr to be broadly spread over different livestock and food matrices, and to be present in various sequence types. The qnr-positive isolates were predominantly detected within selectively isolated ESBL (extended spectrum beta-lactamase)-producing E. coli, leading to a frequent association with other resistance genes, especially cephalosporin determinants. Furthermore, we found that qnr correlates with the presence of genes involved in resistance development against quaternary ammonium compounds (qac). The detection of additional point mutations in many isolates within the chromosomal QRDR region led to even higher MIC values against fluoroquinolones for the investigated E. coli. All of these attributes should be carefully taken into account in the risk assessment of qnr-carrying E. coli from livestock and food.