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Volume 15, Number 4—April 2009

Aquaculture and Florfenicol Resistance in Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium DT104

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To the Editor

In a letter recently published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, Smith (1) discussed evidence that he mistakenly believes to undermine the hypothesis that the florfenicol resistance gene present in some isolates of the epidemic Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium DT104 strain originated from a florfenicol resistance plasmid present in Vibrio damsela (Pasteurella piscicida) that infected fish farms in Japan in the 1990s (2). Smith correctly states that the florfenicol resistance gene was present in S. enterica serovar Typhimurium DT104 strains isolated in the United States in 1985, before the gene was documented in V. damsela in Japan (1,3). He is also correct in noting that this particular florfenicol resistance gene was detected in a plasmid in Klebsiella pneumoniae in France in 1969 (1,4).

However, an earlier report by Briggs and Fratamico (5) clearly established that the florfenicol resistance genes and the tetracycline resistance genes tetG and tetR in the Salmonella genomic island 1 (SGI1) were surrounded by non–antimicrobial-drug resistance DNA. This DNA is homologous to DNA sequences in plasmids PASPPFLO and pJA8122 (see Figure 1 and Table 2 in reference 5) (57). In addition to antimicrobial drug resistance genes, PASPPFLO and pJA8122 contain cloned DNA segments of indigenous R plasmids found in V. damsela and V. anguillarum, respectively; these cloned DNA segments span sequences that extend beyond their florfenicol resistance and tetR/tetG genes (57). For example, the region of the florfenicol resistance gene in SGI1 contains 763 nt of the non–antimicrobial-drug resistance portion of the original V. damsela plasmid; the region of tetR/tetG contains 468 nt of the non–antimicrobial-drug resistance DNA segment of the P. piscicida plasmid (57).

The presence of these non–antimicrobial-drug resistance R plasmid DNA sequences in SGI1 constitutes a molecular signature that firmly establishes the aquaculture origin of the florfenicol resistance and the tetR/tetG genes in the S. enterica serovar Typhimurium DT104 strain studied by Briggs and Fratamico and in the SGI1 of other bacteria (5). These R plasmid DNA sequences in SGI1 also confirm direct or indirect horizontal gene transfer between bacteria in the aquaculture environment and S. enterica serovar Typhimurium DT104 (57).


Felipe C. CabelloComments to Author 

Author affiliation: New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York, USA



  1. Smith  P. Aquaculture and florfenicol resistance in Salmonella enterica Typhimurium DT104. Emerg Infect Dis. 2008;14:13278. DOIPubMed
  2. Angulo  FJ, Griffin  PM. Changes in antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Emerg Infect Dis. 2000;6:4368.PubMed
  3. Ribot  EM, Wierzba  RK, Angulo  FJ, Barrett  TJ. Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium DT104 isolated from humans, United States, 1985, 1990, and 1995. Emerg Infect Dis. 2002;8:38791.PubMed
  4. Cloeckaert  A, Baucheron  S, Chaslus-Dancla  E. Nonenzymatic chloramphenicol resistance mediated by IncC plasmid R55 is encoded by a floR gene variant. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2001;45:23812. DOIPubMed
  5. Briggs  CE, Fratamico  PM. Molecular characterization of an antibiotic resistance gene cluster of Salmonella typhimurium DT104. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1999;43:8469.PubMed
  6. Kim  E, Aoki  T. Sequence analysis of the florfenicol resistance gene encoded in the transferable R-plasmid of a fish pathogen, Pasteurella piscicida. Microbiol Immunol. 1996;40:6659.PubMed
  7. Zhao  J, Aoki  T. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the class G tetracycline resistance determinant from Vibrio anguillarum. Microbiol Immunol. 1992;36:105160.PubMed


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DOI: 10.3201/eid1504.081171

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Table of Contents – Volume 15, Number 4—April 2009


Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Felipe C. Cabello, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY 10595, USA

Peter Smith, Department of Microbiology, National University of Ireland, University Road, Galway, Ireland

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