Fluoroquinolone resistance in Salmonella has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. To probe the molecular basis of this phenomenon, the genetic and phenotypic features of fluoroquinolone resistant Salmonella strains isolated from food samples were characterized. Among the 82 Salmonella strains tested, resistance rate of the three front line antibiotics of ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin and azithromycin was 10%, 39% and 25% respectively, which is significantly higher than that reported in other countries. Ciprofloxacin resistant strains typically exhibited cross-resistance to multiple antibiotics including ceftriaxone, primarily due to the presence of multiple PMQR genes and the bla CTX-M-65, bla CTX-M-55 bla CMY-2 and bla CMY-72 elements. The prevalence rate of the oqxAB and aac(6 ')-Ib-cr genes were 91% and 75% respectively, followed by qnrS (66%), qnrB (16%) and qnrD (3%). The most common PMQR combination observable was aac(6 ')-Ib-cr-oqxAB-qnrS2, which accounted for 50% of the ciprofloxacin resistant strains. Interestingly, such isolates contained either no target mutations or only a single gyrA mutation. Conjugation and hybridization experiments suggested that most PMQR genes were located either in the chromosome or a non-transferrable plasmid. To summarize, findings in this work suggested that PMQRs greatly facilitate development of fluoroquinolone resistance in Salmonella by abolishing the requirement of target gene mutations.
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