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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2018 Sep 17;84(19). pii: e01108-18. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01108-18. Print 2018 Oct 1.

Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing and Tentative Epidemiological Cutoff Values for Five Bacillus Species Relevant for Use as Animal Feed Additives or for Plant Protection.

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Chr. Hansen A/S, Hørsholm, Denmark
Chr. Hansen A/S, Hørsholm, Denmark.


Bacillus megaterium (n = 29), Bacillus velezensis (n = 26), Bacillus amyloliquefaciens (n = 6), Bacillus paralicheniformis (n = 28), and Bacillus licheniformis (n = 35) strains from different sources, origins, and time periods were tested for the MICs for nine antimicrobial agents by the CLSI-recommended method (Mueller-Hinton broth, 35°C, for 18 to 20 h), as well as with a modified CLSI method (Iso-Sensitest [IST] broth, 37°C [35°C for B. megaterium], 24 h). This allows a proposal of species-specific epidemiological cutoff values (ECOFFs) for the interpretation of antimicrobial resistance in these species. MICs determined by the modified CLSI method were 2- to 16-fold higher than with the CLSI-recommended method for several antimicrobials. The MIC distributions differed between species for five of the nine antimicrobials. Consequently, use of the modified CLSI method and interpretation of resistance by use of species-specific ECOFFs is recommended. The genome sequences of all strains were determined and used for screening for resistance genes against the ResFinder database and for multilocus sequence typing. A putative chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (cat) gene was found in one B. megaterium strain with an elevated chloramphenicol MIC compared to the other B. megaterium strains. In B. velezensis and B. amyloliquefaciens, a putative tetracycline efflux gene, tet(L), was found in all strains (n = 27) with reduced tetracycline susceptibility but was absent in susceptible strains. All B. paralicheniformis and 23% of B. licheniformis strains had elevated MICs for erythromycin and harbored ermD The presence of these resistance genes follows taxonomy suggesting they may be intrinsic rather than horizontally acquired. Reduced susceptibility to chloramphenicol, streptomycin, and clindamycin could not be explained in all species.IMPORTANCE When commercializing bacterial strains, like Bacillus spp., for feed applications or plant bioprotection, it is required that the strains are free of acquired antimicrobial resistance genes that could potentially spread to pathogenic bacteria, thereby adding to the pool of resistance genes that may cause treatment failures in humans or animals. Conversely, if antimicrobial resistance is intrinsic to a bacterial species, the risk of spreading horizontally to other bacteria is considered very low. Reliable susceptibility test methods and interpretation criteria at the species level are needed to accurately assess antimicrobial resistance levels. In the present study, tentative ECOFFs for five Bacillus species were determined, and the results showed that the variation in MICs followed the respective species. Moreover, putative resistance genes, which were detected by whole-genome sequencing and suggested to be intrinsic rather that acquired, could explain the resistance phenotypes in most cases.


antibiotic; antibiotic resistance; breakpoint; intrinsic resistance; probiotic

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