There is an urgent need to understand the global epidemiological landscape of carbapenem-resistant Escherichia coli (CREC). Here we provide combined genomic and phenotypic characterization of the emergence of a CREC clone from the ST410 lineage. We show that the clone expands with a single plasmid, within which there is frequent switching of the carbapenemase gene type between blaNDM and blaOXA-181 with no impact on plasmid stability or fitness. A search for clone-specific traits identified unique alleles of genes involved in adhesion and iron acquisition, which have been imported via recombination. These recombination-derived allelic switches had no impact on virulence in a simple infection model, but decreased efficiency in binding to abiotic surfaces and greatly enhanced fitness in iron limited conditions. Together our data show a footprint for evolution of a CREC clone, whereby recombination drives new alleles into the clone which provide a competitive advantage in colonizing mammalian hosts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Medicine (miscellaneous)