Effects of biofilm growth on plasmid copy number and expression of antibiotic resistance genes in Enterococcus faecalis

L. C. Cook, G. M. Dunny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Biofilm growth causes increased average plasmid copy number as well as increased copy number heterogeneity in Enterococcus faecalis cells carrying plasmid pCF10. In this study, we examined whether biofilm growth affected the copy number and expression of antibiotic resistance determinants for several plasmids with diverse replication systems. Four different E. faecalis plasmids, unrelated to pCF10, demonstrated increased copy number in biofilm cells. In biofilm cells, we also observed increased transcription of antibiotic resistance genes present on these plasmids. The increase in plasmid copy number correlated with increased plating efficiency on high concentrations of antibiotics. Single-cell analysis of strains carrying two different plasmids suggested that the increase in plasmid copy number associated with biofilm growth was restricted to a subpopulation of biofilm cells. Regrowth of harvested biofilm cells in liquid culture resulted in a rapid reduction of plasmid copy number to that observed in the planktonic state. These results suggest a possible mechanism by which biofilm growth could reduce susceptibility to antibiotics in clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1850-1856
Number of pages7
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Volume57
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2013

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