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J Antimicrob Chemother. 1999 Jul;44(1):11-8.

Identification and characterization of class 1 integrons in bacteria from an aquatic environment.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Dundee, UK.


In a survey of 3000 Gram-negative bacteria isolated from an estuarine environment over a 2 month period, the incidence of class 1 integrons was determined to be 3.6%. Of 85 integrons studied further, 11 lacked both the qacEdelta1 and sull genes usually present in the 3' conserved segment of the integron. The qacEdelta1 and sull genes were identified in the 3' conserved segment of 36 integrons. The remaining 38 integrons lacked a sull gene but contained a qacE gene. The variable region of 74 integrons was characterized by PCR and sequence analysis. Forty of the integrons were found to lack integrated gene cassettes, although 21 of these 'empty' integrons were shown to contain inserted DNA which has been tentatively identified as a novel insertion sequence (IS) element. Of the 34 integrons which contained inserted gene cassettes, the aadA1a gene was found to be the most prevalent (74%). Nineteen integrons contained additional or other gene cassettes in their variable region, including those encoding resistance to trimethoprim (dfr1a, dfrIIc, dfrV, dfrVII, dfrXII), chloramphenicol (catB3, catB5), aminoglycosides (aadA2, aacA4, aacC1), beta-lactamases (oxa2) and erythromycin (ereA). This study confirms the occurrence of integrons in bacteria from a natural habitat and suggests that in the absence of continued antibiotic selective pressures, integrons which persist appear to preferentially exist without integrated antibiotic resistance gene cassettes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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