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Appl Environ Microbiol. Dec 1994; 60(12): 4234–4238.
PMCID: PMC201974

Transfer in Marine Sediments of the Naturally Occurring Plasmid pRAS1 Encoding Multiple Antibiotic Resistance


The results of microcosm experiments performed with the fish-pathogenic bacterium Aeromonas salmonicida acting as a donor showed that promiscuous plasmid pRAS1, which encodes tetracycline resistance, is transferred at a high frequency in marine sediments even in the absence of a selective factor. The presence of oxytetracycline resulted in an increase in the transfer frequency compared with that of a microcosm to which no selective factor was added. Transfer frequencies of 3.4 × 10-1 transconjugant per recipient and 3.6 transconjugants per donor cell were obtained in a microcosm to which oxytetracycline had been added. Hybridization with a DNA probe specific for plasmid pRAS1 revealed that 45.8% of the oxytetracycline-resistant isolates obtained from a microcosm with no selective pressure carried the plasmid, while 86.8% of the isolates obtained from a microcosm to which oxytetracycline had been added carried the plasmid. Phenotypic characterization of the transconjugants revealed that the plasmid had been transferred to a variety of different biotypes in both microcosms. The diversity among the transconjugants isolated from the microcosm to which oxytetracycline had been added was substantially lower than the diversity among the transconjugants isolated from the microcosm to which no selective agent had been added.

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