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Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2018 Feb;51(2):249-254. doi: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2017.09.015. Epub 2017 Oct 10.

Plasmid-mediated doxycycline resistance in a Yersinia pestis strain isolated from a rat.

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Yersinia Research Unit, WHO Collaborating Center, Institut Pasteur, 28 rue du Dr Roux, 75724 Paris, Cedex 15, France.
Genomics Platform, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.
Plague Unit, WHO Collaborating Center, Institut Pasteur, Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Yersinia Research Unit, WHO Collaborating Center, Institut Pasteur, 28 rue du Dr Roux, 75724 Paris, Cedex 15, France. Electronic address:


The emergence of antibiotic-resistant Yersinia pestis strains represents a public health concern. Two antibiotic-resistant Y. pestis strains isolated from Madagascar have been previously identified and characterised. Both strains carried conjugative plasmids that conferred resistance to streptomycin or to multiple antibacterial drugs, respectively. Here we characterised a novel Y. pestis strain (IP2180H) that exhibited resistance to doxycycline. This strain was isolated from a rat in Antananarivo (Madagascar) in 1998. Resistance was carried by a conjugative plasmid (pIP2180H) homologous to pB71 from Salmonella enterica. The plasmid of the previously identified streptomycin-resistant Y. pestis strain was also sequenced and it was found that the three antibiotic resistance Y. pestis plasmids sequenced until now are genetically unrelated and are also unrelated to multidrug resistance plasmids from the phylogenetically close bacterial species Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. The fact that the three antibiotic-resistant Malagasy Y. pestis strains were isolated from different hosts, at different times, from distant locations, and carried unrelated plasmids indicates independent horizontal acquisition of genetic material and further demonstrates the capacity of Y. pestis to acquire antibiotic resistance plasmids under natural conditions. Since these resistance plasmids can frequently carry or easily trap antibiotic resistance cassettes, the emergence of new multidrug-resistant Y. pestis strains may be expected and would represent a major health threat.


IncH1; IncP; Madagascar; Plague; pAAA83; pB71

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