The Royal Society

Supplementary material from "Costs of antibiotic resistance genes depend on host strain and environment and can influence community composition"

Posted on 2024-06-03 - 15:52
Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) benefit host bacteria in environments containing corresponding antibiotics, but it is less clear how they are maintained in environments where antibiotic selection is weak or sporadic. In particular, few studies have measured if the direct effect of ARGs on host fitness is fixed or if it depends on the host strain, perhaps marking some ARG-host combinations as selective refuges that can maintain ARGs in the absence of antibiotic selection. We quantified the fitness effects of six ARGs in 11 diverse Escherichia spp. Strains. Three ARGs (blaTEM-116, cat, and dfrA5, encoding resistance to β-lactams, chloramphenicol, and trimethoprim, respectively) imposed an overall cost, but all ARGs had an effect in at least one host strain, reflecting a significant strain interaction effect. A simulation predicts these interactions can cause the success of ARGs to depend on available host strains, and, to a lesser extent, can cause host strain success to depend on the ARGs present in a community. These results indicate the importance of considering ARG effects across different host strains, and especially the potential of refuge strains to allow resistance to persist in the absence of direct selection, in efforts to understand resistance dynamics.


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