Antibiotic and biocide resistance in Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli 0157

  • Maria Braoudaki

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Bacterial resistance to antibiotics and biocides is a prevalent problem, which may be exacerbated by the commonplace and often unnecessary inclusion of biocides into domestic products. Addition of antimicrobials, to domestic disinfectants has raised concern about promoting microbial resistance and potential cross-resistance to therapeutic antibiotics.
This study investigated the potential for resistance in Salmonella enterica serovars Enteritidis, Typhimurium, Virchow and Escherichia call 0157 to commonly used biocides, to identify mechanisms underlying resistance and whether these provided cross-resistance to antibiotics. Salmonella enterica and E. coli 0157 strains were serially exposed to sub-inhibitory. concentrations of erythromycin (ERY), benzalkonium chloride (BKC), chlorhexidine hydrochloride (CHX)and triclosan (TLN). Once resistance was achieved permeability changes in the outer membrane, including LPS, cell surface charge and hydrophobicityand the presence of,an active
efflux were investigated as possible resistance candidates. Thin layer chromatography (TLC) and Gas chromatography (GC) were carried out to examine fatty acid and lipid changes in E. coli 0157 isolates with reduced susceptibility to TLN. Cross-resistance was studied by the Stoke's method and standard microdilution assays.
Examination of the outer membrane proteins and LPS did not reveal any significant changes between parent and resistant strains. The hydrophobicity of the cells increased as the cells were passaged and became less. susceptible. An active efflux system was the most likely mechanism of resistance in all strains tested and a fab1 mutation was associated with E. coli 0157 resistant to TLN isolates. In all isolates investigated the resistance was stable for over 30 passages in biocide-free media. A high degree of cross-resistance was obtained in TLN-resjstant Escherichia coli 0157 strains, which repeatedly exerted decreased susceptibility to various antimicrobials, including chloramphenicol, erythromycin, imipenem, tetracycline and trimethoprirn:, as well as to various biocides.
The results of this laboratory-based investigation suggest that it is possible for microorganisms to become resistant to biocides when repeatedly exposed to sublethal concentrations. This may be especially the case in the domestic environment where administration of biocides is poorly controlled. Eventually it could lead to the undesirable situation of resident strains becoming resistant to disinfection and cross resistant to other antimicrobials.

Date of AwardSept 2004
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnthony Hilton (Supervisor)


  • triclosan
  • cross-resistance
  • E.coli
  • salmonella
  • biocides
  • antibiotics

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