Loss of Function in Escherichia coli exposed to Environmentally Relevant Concentrations of Benzalkonium Chloride

FORBES, Sarah, MORGAN, Nicola, HUMPHREYS, Gavin J., AMÉZQUITA, Alejandro, MISTRY, Hitesh and MCBAIN, Andrew J. (2018). Loss of Function in Escherichia coli exposed to Environmentally Relevant Concentrations of Benzalkonium Chloride. Applied and environmental microbiology.


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Official URL: https://aem.asm.org/content/early/2018/12/05/AEM.0...
Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.02417-18


Assessing the risk of resistance associated with biocide exposure commonly involves exposing microorganisms to biocides at concentrations close to the MIC. With the aim of representing exposure to environmental biocide residues, MG1655 was grown for 20 passages in the presence or absence of benzalkonium chloride (BAC) at 100 ng/L and 1000 ng/L (0.0002% and 0.002% of the MIC respectively). BAC susceptibility, planktonic growth rates, motility and biofilm-formation were assessed, and differentially expressed genes determined via RNA-sequencing. Planktonic growth rate and biofilm-formation were significantly reduced (p<0.001) following BAC adaptation, whilst BAC minimum bactericidal concentration increased two-fold. Transcriptomic analysis identified 289 upregulated and 391 downregulated genes after long-term BAC adaptation when compared to the respective control organism passaged in BAC-free-media. When the BAC-adapted bacterium was grown in biocide-free medium, 1052 genes were upregulated and 753 were down regulated. Repeated passage solely in biocide-free medium resulted in 460 upregulated and 476 downregulated genes compared to unexposed bacteria. Long-term exposure to environmentally relevant BAC concentrations increased the expression of genes associated with efflux and reduced gene expression associated with outer-membrane porins, motility and chemotaxis. This was manifested phenotypically through loss-of-function (motility). Repeated passage in a BAC-free-environment resulted in the up-regulation of multiple respiration-associated genes, which was reflected by increased growth rate. In summary, repeated exposure of to BAC residues resulted in significant alterations in global gene expression that were associated with minor decreases in biocide susceptibility, reductions in growth-rate and biofilm-formation, and loss of motility. Exposure to very low concentrations of biocide in the environment is a poorly understood risk factor for antimicrobial resistance. Repeated exposure to trace levels of the biocide BAC resulted in loss of function (motility) and a general reduction in bacterial fitness, but relatively minor decreases in susceptibility. These changes were accompanied by widespread changes in the transcriptome. This demonstrates the importance of including phenotypic characterisation in studies designed to assess the risks of biocide exposure. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.]

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ** From PubMed via Jisc Publications Router **Journal IDs: eissn 1098-5336 **Article IDs: pubmed: 30530708; pii: AEM.02417-18
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.02417-18
SWORD Depositor: Margaret Boot
Depositing User: Margaret Boot
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2019 14:15
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 14:45
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/23691

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