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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37459. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037459. Epub 2012 May 25.

Genetic and phenotypic characterization of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa population with high frequency of genomic islands.

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  • 1Departamento de Microbiología y Parasitología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico. marosari@servidor.unam.mx


Various genomic islands, PAPI-1, PAPI-2, PAGI-1, PAGI-2, PAGI-3, and PAGI-4, and the element pKLC102 have been characterized in different P. aeruginosa strains from diverse habitats and geographical locations. Chromosomal DNA macroarray of 100 P. aeruginosa strains isolated from 85 unrelated patients hospitalized in an intensive care unit was created to assess the occurrence of these genomic islands (GEIs). The macroarray was then hybridized with labeled probes derived from each genomic island. In addition, PFGE patterns with SpeI, frequency of virulence genes, and antimicrobial resistance patterns of the strains were studied. Our results showed that almost all P. aeruginosa strains presented up to eight virulence genes. By SpeI macrorestriction fragment analysis we were able to identify 49 restriction patterns; 35 patterns correspond to single strains and the remaining 14 to strains subgroup (a-n). Most of the strains showed variation in number or composition of GEIs and a specific antimicrobial pattern indicating that each strain was an unrelated isolate. In terms of the number of genomic islands per strain, 7 GEIs were found in 34% of the strains, 6 in 18%, 5 in 12%, 4 in 14%, 3 in 10%, 2 in 7%, and 1 in 4%; only one isolate did not present any GEI. The genomic islands PAPI-1 and PAPI-2 and the element pKLC102 were the most frequently detected. The analysis of the location of each GEI in the chromosome of two strains show that the islands PAGI-3, PAPI-1, PAPI-2 and pKLC102 are present in the insertion site previously reported, but that PAGI-2 and PAGI-4 are inserted in another chromosome place in a site not characterized yet. In conclusion our data show that P. aeruginosa strains exhibited an epidemic population structure with horizontal transfer of DNA resulting in a high frequency of GEIs.

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