Antibiotic sensitivity screening of Klebsiella spp. and Raoultella spp. isolated from Marine Bivalve Molluscs reveal presence of CTX-M-Producing * K. pneumoniae*

Klebsiella spp. are a major cause of both nosocomial and community acquired infections, with K. pneumoniae being responsible for most human infections. Although Klebsiella spp. are present in a variety of environments, their distribution in the sea and the associated antibiotic resistance is largely unknown.

In order to examine prevalence of K. pneumoniae and related species in the marine environment, we sampled 476 batches of marine bivalve molluscs collected along the Norwegian coast. From these samples, K. pneumoniae (n = 78), K. oxytoca (n = 41), K. variicola (n = 33), K. aerogenes (n = 1), Raoultella ornithinolytica (n = 38) and R. planticola (n = 13) were isolated. The number of positive samples increased with higher levels of faecal contamination. We found low prevalence of acquired resistance in all isolates, with seven K. pneumoniae isolates showing resistance to more than one antibiotic class.

The complete genome sequence of cefotaxime-resistant K. pneumoniae sensu stricto isolate 2016-1400 was obtained using Oxford Nanopore and Illumina MiSeq based sequencing. The 2016-1400 genome had two contigs, one chromosome of 5,088,943 bp and one plasmid of 191,744 bp and belonged to ST1035. The β-lactamase genes blaCTX-M-3 and blaTEM-1, as well as the heavy metal resistance genes pco, ars and sil were carried on a plasmid highly similar to one found in K. pneumoniae strain C17KP0055 from South-Korea recovered from a blood stream infection.

The present study demonstrates that K. pneumoniae are prevalent in the coastal marine environment and that bivalve molluscs may act as a potential reservoir of extended spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing K. pneumoniae that may be transmitted through the food chain.

Authors: Fredrik Håkonsholm, Marit A. K. Hetland, Cecilie S. Svanevik, Arnfinn Sundsfjord, Bjørn Tore Lunestad and Nachiket P. Marathe