Temperature and Nutrient Limitations Decrease Transfer of Conjugative IncP-1 Plasmid pKJK5 to Wild Escherichia coli Strains

Rebeca Pallares-Vega, Gonçalo Macedo, Michael S.M. Brouwer, Lucia Hernandez Leal, Peter van der Maas, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht*, David G. Weissbrodt, Dick Heederik, Dik Mevius, Heike Schmitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Plasmid-mediated dissemination of antibiotic resistance among fecal Enterobacteriaceae in natural ecosystems may contribute to the persistence of antibiotic resistance genes in anthropogenically impacted environments. Plasmid transfer frequencies measured under laboratory conditions might lead to overestimation of plasmid transfer potential in natural ecosystems. This study assessed differences in the conjugative transfer of an IncP-1 (pKJK5) plasmid to three natural Escherichia coli strains carrying extended-spectrum beta-lactamases, by filter mating. Matings were performed under optimal laboratory conditions (rich LB medium and 37°C) and environmentally relevant temperatures (25, 15 and 9°C) or nutrient regimes mimicking environmental conditions and limitations (synthetic wastewater and soil extract). Under optimal nutrient conditions and temperature, two recipients yielded high transfer frequencies (5 × 10–1) while the conjugation frequency of the third strain was 1000-fold lower. Decreasing mating temperatures to psychrophilic ranges led to lower transfer frequencies, albeit all three strains conjugated under all the tested temperatures. Low nutritive media caused significant decreases in transconjugants (−3 logs for synthetic wastewater; −6 logs for soil extract), where only one of the strains was able to produce detectable transconjugants. Collectively, this study highlights that despite less-than-optimal conditions, fecal organisms may transfer plasmids in the environment, but the transfer of pKJK5 between microorganisms is limited mainly by low nutrient conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number656250
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • AMR
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • environmental conditions
  • horizontal gene transfer
  • soil extract agar
  • synthetic wastewater


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