Antibiotics are routinely used in food-producing animals to promote growth and prevent infectious diseases. We investigated the effects of bovine antibiotic growth promoters (bAGPs) on the propagation and spread of Shiga toxin (Stx)–encoding phages in Escherichia coli. Co-culture of E. coli O157:H7 and other E. coli isolated from cattle in the presence of sublethal concentrations of bAGPs significantly increased the emergence of non-O157, Stx-producing E. coli by triggering the SOS response system in E. coli O157:H7. The most substantial mediation of Stx phage transmission was induced by oxytetracyline and chlortetracycline, which are commonly used in agriculture. bAGPs may therefore contribute to the expansion of pathogenic Stx-producing E. coli.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by grant 401843-2012-RGPIN from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to B.J. The research infrastructure was supported by the Leaders Opportunity Fund from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The work of J.S. was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (2013CB127200).
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