This work aimed to investigate the association of the carriage of plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance (PMQR) genes, the virulence potential encoded in pathogenicity islands (PAIs) and the phylogenetic background in Escherichia coli strains isolated from waters of diverse origin. Antimicrobial susceptibilities were determined by the disc diffusion method. Screening for PMQR (qnr, aac(6′)-Ib-variant and qepA) genes, PAIs and the determination of phylogroup was performed by PCR. Nineteen percent of strains were resistant to nalidixic acid, 11% to ciprofloxacin and 5% to gentamicin. qnrA was the only PMQR detected in 16% of strains, susceptible to quinolones and grouped in phylogenetic lineage B1. Sixty-seven percent of the isolates were assigned to the less-virulent groups A and B1. PAIs IV536 and IICFT073 were detected in 16 and 3% of the isolates, respectively. All PAIs were detected in the phylogroups D and B1. The presence of PAIs in isolates from waters may represent an increased risk for public health, as they were isolated from samples collected from surface and drinking waters. As E. coli is an important indicator of microbiological water quality, and also a potential pathogen, routine analysis for its detection could be complemented by screening for virulence factors and antimicrobial genes.

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