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J Dairy Sci. 2005 Apr;88(4):1391-8.

Presence of multidrug-resistant enteric bacteria in dairy farm topsoil.

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Eastern New Mexico University, Department of Biology, Station 33, Portales, 88130, USA.


In addition to human and veterinary medicine, antibiotics are extensively used in agricultural settings, such as for treatment of infections, growth enhancement, and prophylaxis in food animals, leading to selection of drug and multidrug-resistant bacteria. To help circumvent the problem of bacterial antibiotic resistance, it is first necessary to understand the scope of the problem. However, it is not fully understood how widespread antibiotic-resistant bacteria are in agricultural settings. The lack of such surveillance data is especially evident in dairy farm environments, such as soil. It is also unknown to what extent various physiological modulators, such as salicylate, a component of aspirin and known model modulator of multiple antibiotic resistance (mar) genes, influence bacterial multi-drug resistance. We isolated and identified enteric soil bacteria from local dairy farms within Roosevelt County, NM, determined the resistance profiles to antibiotics associated with mar, such as chloramphenicol, nalidixic acid, penicillin G, and tetracycline. We then purified and characterized plasmid DNA and detected mar phenotypic activity. The minimal inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of antibiotics for the isolates ranged from 6 to >50 microg/mL for chloramphenicol, 2 to 8 microg/mL for nalidixic acid, 25 to >300 microg/mL for penicillin G, and 1 to >80 microg/mL for tetracycline. On the other hand, many of the isolates had significantly enhanced MIC for the same antibiotics in the presence of 5 mM salicylate. Plasmid DNA extracted from 12 randomly chosen isolates ranged in size from 6 to 12.5 kb and, in several cases, conferred resistance to chloramphenicol and penicillin G. It is concluded that enteric bacteria from dairy farm topsoil are multidrug resistant and harbor antibiotic-resistance plasmids. A role for dairy topsoil in zoonoses is suggested, implicating this environment as a reservoir for development of bacterial resistance against clinically relevant antibiotics.

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