The extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC) H30 subclone of sequence type 131 (ST131-H30) has emerged abruptly as a dominant lineage of Ex- PEC responsible for human disease. The ST131-H30 lineage has been well described phylogenetically, yet its plasmid complement is not fully understood. Here, singlemolecule, real-time sequencing was used to generate the complete plasmid sequences of ST131-H30 isolates and those belonging to other ST131 clades. Comparative analyses revealed separate F-type plasmids that have shaped the evolution of the main fluoroquinolone-resistant ST131-H30 clades. Specifically, an F1:A2:B20 plasmid is strongly associated with the H30R/C1 clade, whereas an F2:A1:B- plasmid is associated with the H30Rx/C2 clade. A series of plasmid gene losses, gains, and rearrangements involving IS26 likely led to the current plasmid complements within each ST131-H30 sublineage, which contain several overlapping gene clusters with putative functions in virulence and fitness, suggesting plasmid-mediated convergent evolution. Evidence suggests that the H30Rx/C2-associated F2:A1:B- plasmid type was present in strains ancestral to the acquisition of fluoroquinolone resistance and prior to the introduction of a multidrug resistance-encoding gene cassette harboring blaCTX-M-15. In vitro experiments indicated a host strain-independent low frequency of plasmid transfer, differential levels of plasmid stability even between closely related ST131-H30 strains, and possible epistasis for carriage of these plasmids within the H30R/Rx lineages.
- Escherichia coli