Globally Disseminated Multidrug Resistance Plasmids Revealed by Complete Assembly of Multidrug Resistant Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae Genomes from Diarrheal Disease in Botswana
Antimicrobial resistance is a disseminated global health challenge because many of the genes that cause resistance can transfer horizontally between bacteria. Despite the central role of extrachromosomal DNA elements called plasmids in driving the spread of resistance, the detection and surveillance of plasmids remains a significant barrier in molecular epidemiology. We assessed two DNA sequencing platforms alone and in combination for laboratory diagnostics in Botswana by annotating antibiotic resistance genes and plasmids in extensively drug resistant bacteria from diarrhea in Botswana. Long-read Nanopore DNA sequencing and high accuracy basecalling effectively estimated the architecture and gene content of three plasmids in Escherichia coli HUM3355 and two plasmids in Klebsiella pneumoniae HUM7199. Polishing the assemblies with Illumina reads increased base calling precision with small improvements to gene prediction. All five plasmids encoded one or more antibiotic resistance genes, usually within gene islands containing multiple antibiotic and metal resistance genes, and four plasmids encoded genes associated with conjugative transfer. Two plasmids were almost identical to antibiotic resistance plasmids sequenced in Europe and North America from human infection and a pig farm. These One Health connections demonstrate how low-, middle-, and high-income countries collectively benefit from increased whole genome sequencing capacity for surveillance and tracking of infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance genes that can transfer between animal hosts and move across continents.