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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54223. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054223. Epub 2013 Jan 17.

Could public restrooms be an environment for bacterial resistomes?

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Pre-Clinical Drug Discovery Group, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom.


Antibiotic resistance in bacteria remains a major problem and environments that help to maintain such resistance, represent a significant problem to infection control in the community. Restrooms have always been regarded as potential sources of infectious diseases and we suggest they have the potential to sustain bacterial "resistomes". Recent studies have demonstrated the wide range of different bacterial phyla that can be found in non-healthcare restrooms. In our study we focused on the Staphylococci. These species are often skin contaminants on man and have been reported as common restroom isolates in recent molecular studies. We collected samples from 18 toilets sited in 4 different public buildings. Using MALDI-TOF-MS and other techniques, we identified a wide range of antibiotic resistant Staphylococci and other bacteria from our samples. We identified 19 different Staphylococcal species within our isolates and 37.8% of the isolates were drug resistant. We also identified different Staphylococcal species with the same antibiograms inhabiting the same restrooms. Bacterial "resistomes" are communities of bacteria often localised in specific areas and within these environments drug resistance determinants may be freely transferred. Our study shows that non-healthcare restrooms are a source of antibiotic resistant bacteria where a collection of antibiotic resistance genes in pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria could form a resistome containing a "nexus of genetic diversity"

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