Filter feeding is a biotic process that brings waterborne bacteria in close contact with each other and may thus support the horizontal transfer of their antimicrobial resistance genes. This laboratory study investigated whether the freshwater sponge Ephydatia fluviatilis supported the transfer of vancomycin resistance between two Enterococcus faecalis strains that we previously demonstrated to exhibit pheromone responsive plasmid conjugation. Microcosm experiments exposed live and dead colonies of laboratory-grown sponges to a vancomycin-resistant donor strain and a rifampicin-resistant recipient strain of Ent. faecalis. Enterococci with both resistance phenotypes were detected on double selection plates. In comparison to controls, abundance of these presumed transconjugants increased significantly in water from sponge microcosms. Homogenized suspensions of sponge cells also yielded presumed transconjugants; however, there was no significant difference between samples from live or dead sponges. Fluorescent in situ hybridization analysis of the sponge cell matrix using species-specific probes revealed the presence of enterococci clusters with cells adjacent to each other. The results demonstrated that sponge colonies can support the horizontal transfer of antimicrobial resistance although the mechanism underlying this process, such as binding of the bacteria to the sponge collagen matrix, has yet to be fully elucidated.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Letters in Applied Microbiology|
|Early online date||10 May 2020|
|Publication status||Published (in print/issue) - 19 Jun 2020|
- Enterococcus faecalis
- Ephydatia fluviatilis
- horizontal gene transfer