Coliform bacteria isolated from the aquatic environment were investigated for antibiotic susceptibility and detailed structures of class 1 integrons. A high proportion of isolates were found to be resistant to sulfamethoxazole, aminoglycosides, and β-lactams. The 750 (53.6%) isolates were resistant to one or more of the antibiotics tested out of 1,400 coliform bacteria. Based on the MIC of antibiotics and antibiogram, 150 isolates were selected and further studied for class 1 integrons. The intI1 gene was found in 36 (24.0%) of the 150 isolates. Twelve isolates carried the gene cassettes responsible for antibiotic resistance, while no gene cassettes were found in 24 isolates. Seven different genes, dfrA5, dfrA7, dfrA12, dfrA17, aaA2, aaA5, and aad(3’), were detected in gene cassettes. The dfrA and aad genes located on class 1 integrons were responsible for resistance to trimethoprim and aminoglycosides. The remaining 24 coliform bacteria had the incomplete or non-functional class 1 integrons. These results indicated that antibiotic selective pressures may play an important role to maintain gene cassettes of class 1 integrons and in the absence of sustained antibiotic pressures, such as the aquatic environment, coliform bacteria may carry empty or non-functional class 1 integrons.

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