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BACKGROUND:The crisis of antimicrobial resistance is already here with us, affecting both humans and animals alike and very soon, small cuts and surgeries will become life threatening. This study aimed at determine the whole genome sequences of multi-drug resistant Escherichia coli isolated in a Pastoralist Community of Western Uganda: phylogenomic changes, virulence and resistant genes. METHODS:This was a laboratory based cross sectional study. Bacterial isolates analyzed in this study were 42 multidrug resistant E. coli isolated from stool samples from both humans (n = 30) and cattle (n = 12) in pastoralist communities collected between January 2018-March 2019. Most of the isolates (41/42) were resistant to three or more antibiotics (multi-drug resistant) and 21/42 isolates were ESBL producers; 13/30 from human and 8/12 from cattle. Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) was carried out at the facilities of Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome trust, Kilifi, to determine the phylogenomic changes, virulence and resistant genes. RESULTS:At household level, the genomes from both human and animals clustered away from one another except for one instance where two human isolates from the same household clustered together. However, 67% of the E. coli isolated from cattle were closely related to those found in humans. The E. coli isolates were assigned to eight different phylogroups: A, B1, B2, Cladel, D, E, F and G, with a majority being assigned to phylogroup A; while most of the animal isolates were assigned to phylogroup B1. The carriage of multiple AMR genes was higher from the E. coli population from humans than those from cattle. Among these were Beta-lactamase; blaOXA-1: Class D beta-lactamases; blaTEM-1, blaTEM-235: Beta-lactamase; catA1: chloramphenicol acetyl transferase; cmlA1: chloramphenicol efflux transporter; dfrA1, dfrA12, dfrA14, dfrA15, dfrA17, dfrA5, dfrA7, dfrA8: macrolide phosphotransferase; oqxB11: RND efflux pump conferring resistance to fluoroquinolone; qacL, qacEdelta1: quinolone efflux pump; qnrS1: quinolone resistance gene; sul1, sul2, sul3: sulfonamide resistant; tet(A), tet(B): tetracycline efflux pump. A high variation of virulence genes was registered among the E. coli genomes from humans than those of cattle origin. CONCLUSION:From the analysis of the core genome and phenotypic resistance, this study has demonstrated that the E. coli of human origin and those of cattle origin may have a common ancestry. Limited sharing of virulence genes presents a challenge to the notion that AMR in humans is as a result of antibiotic use in the farm and distorts the picture of the directionality of transmission of AMR at a human-animal interface and presents a task of exploring alternative routes of transmission of AMR.

Original publication




Journal article


PloS one

Publication Date





Department of Medical Microbiology, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.


Animals, Cattle, Humans, Escherichia coli, Escherichia coli Infections, beta-Lactamases, Escherichia coli Proteins, Virulence Factors, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Microbial Sensitivity Tests, Cross-Sectional Studies, Phylogeny, Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial, Genes, Bacterial, Genome, Bacterial, Uganda, Whole Genome Sequencing