Chicken gut microbiome members limit the spread of an antimicrobial resistance plasmid in Escherichia coli

Sarah J.N. Duxbury*, Jesse B. Alderliesten, Mark P. Zwart, Arjan Stegeman, Egil A.J. Fischer, J.A.G.M. de Visser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Plasmid-mediated antimicrobial resistance is a major contributor to the spread of resistance genes within bacterial communities. Successful plasmid spread depends upon a balance between plasmid fitness effects on the host and rates of horizontal transmission. While these key parameters are readily quantified in vitro, the influence of interactions with other microbiome members is largely unknown. Here, we investigated the influence of three genera of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) derived from the chicken gastrointestinal microbiome on the spread of an epidemic narrow-range ESBL resistance plasmid, IncI1 carrying bla CTX-M-1, in mixed cultures of isogenic Escherichia coli strains. Secreted products of LAB decreased E. coli growth rates in a genus-specific manner but did not affect plasmid transfer rates. Importantly, we quantified plasmid transfer rates by controlling for density-dependent mating opportunities. Parametrization of a mathematical model with our in vitro estimates illustrated that small fitness costs of plasmid carriage may tip the balance towards plasmid loss under growth conditions in the gastrointestinal tract. This work shows that microbial interactions can influence plasmid success and provides an experimental-theoretical framework for further study of plasmid transfer in a microbiome context.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20212027
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1962
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2021


  • antimicrobial resistance plasmid
  • conjugation rate
  • growth rate
  • spent medium


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