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Avian Dis. 2004 Apr-Jun;48(2):317-23.

Inhibition of resistance plasmid transfer in Escherichia coli by ionophores, chlortetracycline, bacitracin, and ionophore/antimicrobial combinations.

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  • 1Alpharma, Inc., Animal Health Division, A400 State Street, Chicago Heights, IL 60411, USA.


Medicinal feed additives bacitracin, chlortetracycline (CTC), laidlomycin, lasalocid, and salinomycin inhibited the transfer of multiresistance-conferring plasmid pBR325 (Tet(r) Amp(r) Cp(r), 6.0 kb) into selected gram-negative strains with the use of an in vitro model. High concentrations of ampicillin-sensitive competence-pretreated Escherichia coli HB 101 cells were exposed to 10% (v/v) of 1:10 dimethyl sulfoxide/agent : water containing test mixtures for 0.5 hr prior to plasmid addition and transforming conditions. Transformation was inhibited for all antimicrobials and showed a positive association wich higher concentration. Additional testing of ionophore compounds separately and in combination with bacitracin, chlortetracycline, lincomycin, roxarsone, tylosin, and virginiamycin at representative feed concentrations demonstrated 80.6% to >99.9% inhibition (P < 0.001) of resistance transfer. Bacitracin alone inhibited transformation within the range of 50-500 ppm. No increase in resistance transfer was observed when poultry-derived and reference gram-negative isolates having low or no transformation efficiency were additionally tested. The results suggest that these compounds, at relevant concentrations used in animal feed, may interfere with cell envelope-associated DNA uptake channels or other transformation competence mechanisms. Through these mechanisms, ionophores and cell membrane-interactive feed agents such as CTC and bacitracin may act to inhibit resistance transfer mechanisms within poultry and livestock.

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