Antibiotic resistance genes in phage particles isolated from human faeces and induced from clinical bacterial isolates

Maryury Brown-Jaque, William Calero-Cáceres, Paula Espinal, Judith Rodríguez-Navarro, Elisenda Miró, Juan José González-López, Thais Cornejo, Juan Carlos Hurtado, Ferran Navarro*, Maite Muniesa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Phage particles have emerged as elements with the potential to mobilise antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in different environments, including the intestinal habitat. This study aimed to determine the occurrence of ARGs in phage particles present in faecal matter and induced from strains isolated from faeces. Nine ARGs (blaTEM, blaCTX-M-1 group, blaCTX-M-9 group, blaOXA-48, qnrA, qnrS, mecA, sul1 and armA) were quantified by qPCR in the phage DNA fractions of 150 faecal samples obtained from healthy individuals who had not received antibiotic treatment or travelled abroad in the 3 months prior to sample collection. On the suspicion that the detected particles originated from bacterial flora, 82 Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates possessing at least one identified ARG (blaTEM, blaCTX-M-1 group, blaCTX-M-9 group, armA, qnrA, qnrS and sul1) were isolated and their capacity to produce phage particles carrying these ARGs following induction was evaluated. Of 150 samples, 72.7% were positive for at least one ARG, with blaTEM and blaCTX-M-9 group being the most prevalent and abundant. Of the 82 isolates, 51 (62%) showed an increase in the number of copies of the respective ARG in the phage fraction following induction, with blaTEM, blaCTX-M-1 group, blaCTX-M-9 group and sul1 being the most abundant. Phages induced from the isolates were further purified and visualised using microscopy and their DNA showed ARG levels of up to 1010 gene copies/mL. This study highlights the abundance of phage particles harbouring ARGs and indicates that bacterial strains in the intestinal habitat could be source of these particles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-442
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Antimicrobial Agents
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Bacteriophage
  • Faeces
  • Horizontal gene transfer
  • Transduction


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