The secret of ST131’s success
There is a type of Escherichia coli bacteria occurring frequently around the world that is resistant to multiple groups of antibiotics. We are investigating how this pathogen acquire and transmit resistance.
Project description (ongoing research project)
Most urinary tract infections and cases of blood poisoning are caused by E. coli bacteria. Strains resistant to multiple antibiotics are occurring increasingly worldwide, especially one type named ST131. In a project comprising six research groups from five countries, we are investigating why the infectious potential of ST131 is so high, and how it acquires resistance. Our team explores the genetic processes by which E. coli integrates specific genes from other bacteria into its own genome thereby expanding its resistance. In earlier studies we have already identified a genetic element (ISEcp1) that plays an important role in this transfer. We are now analysing the mechanisms that are responsible for the observed processes in vitro.
In some regions of the world, more than half of all E. coli bacterial infections can no longer be fought using the usual standard antibiotics (e.g. fluoroquinolone or cephalosporins). Measures are urgently needed to prevent and contain the spread of resistant coli bacteria.
We are seeking to understand the mechanisms by which E. coli integrates genes from other bacteria into its genome, thus expanding its resistance. In addition, we will clarify the influence of a range of factors on this process, including various temperatures, iron concentrations and low antibiotic concentrations.
Our findings will contribute to a better understanding and prediction of how resistant bacteria are selected and spread. As a result, it will pave the way for appropriate countermeasures.
Escherichia coli ST131: a model for high-risk transmission dynamics of antimicrobial resistance