Strain-level characterization of broad host range mobile genetic elements transferring antibiotic resistance from the human microbiome

Samuel C. Forster, Junyan Liu, Nitin Kumar, Emily L. Gulliver, Jodee A. Gould, Alejandra Escobar-Zepeda, Tapoka Mkandawire, Lindsay J. Pike, Yan Shao, Mark D. Stares, Hilary P. Browne, B. Anne Neville, Trevor D. Lawley

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39 Citations (Scopus)


Mobile genetic elements (MGEs) carrying antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) disseminate ARGs when they mobilise into new bacterial hosts. The nature of such horizontal gene transfer (HGT) events between human gut commensals and pathogens remain poorly characterised. Here, we compare 1354 cultured commensal strains (540 species) to 45,403 pathogen strains (12 species) and find 64,188 MGE-mediated ARG transfer events between the two groups using established methods. Among the 5931 MGEs, we find 15 broad host range elements predicted to have crossed different bacterial phyla while also occurring in animal and environmental microbiomes. We experimentally demonstrate that predicted broad host range MGEs can mobilise from commensals Dorea longicatena and Hungatella hathewayi to pathogen Klebsiella oxytoca, crossing phyla simultaneously. Our work establishes the MGE-mediated ARG dissemination network between human gut commensals and pathogens and highlights broad host range MGEs as targets for future ARG dissemination management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1445
Number of pages9
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2022

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