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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Sep;71(9):5309-17.

Plasmid donor affects host range of promiscuous IncP-1beta plasmid pB10 in an activated-sludge microbial community.

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Department of Biological Sciences, 252 Life Sciences South, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3051, USA.


Horizontal transfer of multiresistance plasmids in the environment contributes to the growing problem of drug-resistant pathogens. Even though the plasmid host cell is the primary environment in which the plasmid functions, possible effects of the plasmid donor on the range of bacteria to which plasmids spread in microbial communities have not been investigated. In this study we show that the host range of a broad-host-range plasmid within an activated-sludge microbial community was influenced by the donor strain and that various mating conditions and isolation strategies increased the diversity of transconjugants detected. To detect transconjugants, the plasmid pB10 was marked with lacp-rfp, while rfp expression was repressed in the donors by chromosomal lacI(q). The phylogeny of 306 transconjugants obtained was determined by analysis of partial 16S rRNA gene sequences. The transconjugants belonged to 15 genera of the alpha- and gamma-Proteobacteria. The phylogenetic diversity of transconjugants obtained in separate matings with donors Pseudomonas putida SM1443, Ralstonia eutropha JMP228, and Sinorhizobium meliloti RM1021 was significantly different. For example, the transconjugants obtained after matings in sludge with S. meliloti RM1021 included eight genera that were not represented among the transconjugants obtained with the other two donors. Our results indicate that the spectrum of hosts to which a promiscuous plasmid transfers in a microbial community can be strongly influenced by the donor from which it transfers.

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