The role of potentiating mutations in the evolution of pandemic Escherichia coli clones

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The Escherichia coli species exhibits a vast array of variable lifestyles, including environmental, commensal, and pathogenic organisms. Many of these E. coli contribute significantly to the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Multidrug-resistant (MDR) clones of E. coli have arisen multiple times over varying timescales. The repeated emergence of successful pandemic clones, including the notorious ST131 lineage, highlights a desperate need to further study the evolutionary processes underlying their emergence and success. Here, we review the evolutionary emergence of E. coli ST131 pandemic clones and draw parallels between their evolutionary trajectories and those of other lineages. From colonization and expansion to the acquisition of multidrug resistance plasmids, potentiating mutations are present at each stage, leading to a proposed sequence of events that may result in the formation of an antimicrobial-resistant pandemic clone.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases
Early online date17 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
EAC and AES were funded by the Wellcome Antimicrobial and Antimicrobial Resistance (AAMR) DTP (108876B15Z). RJH was supported by a Natural Environment Research Council grant (NE/T01301X/1), awarded to AM.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Escherichia coli
  • Multidrug resistance
  • Clone evolution
  • Pandemic clones


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