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Microb Drug Resist. 2012 Oct;18(5):531-7. doi: 10.1089/mdr.2012.0029. Epub 2012 Jun 4.

Prevalence and diversity of carbapenem-resistant bacteria in untreated drinking water in Portugal.

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Department of Biology & CESAM, University of Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, Aveiro, Portugal.


We examined the prevalence and diversity of carbapenem-resistant bacteria (CRB) in untreated drinking water. Prevalence was estimated in plate count agar (PCA) and R2A media with or without antibiotics. Clonal relatedness of isolates was established by repetitive extragenic palindroitic (REP)-PCR. Phylogeny was based on the 16S rRNA gene. Antimicrobial susceptibility was assessed by disc diffusion methods. Genes encoding beta-lactamases and integrases were inspected by PCR. CRB ranged from 0.02% to 15.9% of cultivable bacteria, while ampicillin-resistant bacteria ranged from 1.5% to 31.4%. Carbapenem-resistant isolates affiliated with genera Stenotrophomonas, Pseudomonas, Janthinobacterium, Chryseobacterium, Sphingobacterium, Acidovorax, Caulobacter, Cupriavidus, and Sphingomonas. CRB were highly resistant to beta-lactams, but mostly susceptible to other classes. Transmissible beta-lactamase genes and integrase genes were not detected. The genus-specific bla(L1) was detected in 61% of the Stenotrophomonas isolates. Contrarily to what has been reported for extensively used antibiotics, low levels of carbapenem resistance were detected in untreated drinking water, often represented by intrinsically resistant genera. Production of chromosomal-encoded carbapenemases was the prevalent carbapenem resistance mechanism. Results suggest that the dissemination of anthropogenic-derived carbapenem resistance is at an early stage. This presents an opportunity to rationally develop monitoring strategies to identify dissemination routes and assess the impact of human actions in the environmental resistome.

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