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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2011 Sep;35(5):736-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2011.00268.x. Epub 2011 Mar 1.

Multiresistant Gram-negative bacteria: the role of high-risk clones in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance.

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1
Microbiology Services-Colindale, Health Protection Agency, London, UK.

Abstract

Multilocus sequence typing reveals that many bacterial species have a clonal structure and that some clones are widespread. This underlying phylogeny was not revealed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, a method better suited to short-term outbreak investigation. Some global clones are multiresistant and it is easy to assume that these have disseminated from single foci. Such conclusions need caution, however, unless there is a clear epidemiological trail, as with KPC carbapenemase-positive Klebsiella pneumoniae ST258 from Greece to northwest Europe. Elsewhere, established clones may have repeatedly and independently acquired resistance. Thus, the global ST131 Escherichia coli clone most often has CTX-M-15 extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL), but also occurs without ESBLs and as a host of many other ESBL types. We explore this interaction of clone and resistance for E. coli, K. pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii- a species where three global lineages dominate--and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which shows clonal diversity, but includes the relatively 'tight' serotype O12/Burst Group 4 cluster that has proved adept at acquiring resistances--from PSE-1 to VIM-1 β-lactamases--for over 20 years. In summary, 'high-risk clones' play a major role in the spread of resistance, with the risk lying in their tenacity--deriving from poorly understood survival traits--and a flexible ability to accumulate and switch resistance, rather than to constant resistance batteries.

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