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To tackle the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance programmes are in place within Europe applying phenotypic methods, but there are plans for implementing whole genome sequencing (WGS). We tested the benefits of WGS using Escherichia coli collected from pig surveillance performed between 2013 to 2017. WGS was performed on 498 E. coli producing ESBL and AmpC enzymes, recovered from pig caeca on MacConkey + cefotaxime (McC + CTX) agar, as recommended by the European Commission, or ESBL agar, used additionally by United Kingdom. Our results indicated WGS was extremely useful for monitoring trends for specific ESBL genes, as well as a plethora of AMR genotypes, helping to establish their prevalence and co-linkage to certain plasmids. Recovery of isolates with multi-drug resistance (MDR) genotypes was lower from McC + CTX than ESBL agar. The most widespread ESBL genes belonged to the blaCTX-M family. blaCTX-M-1 dominated all years, and was common in two highly stable IncI1 MDR plasmids harbouring (blaCTX-M-1,sul2, tetA) or (blaCTX-M-1, aadA5, sul2, dfrA17), in isolates which were phylogenetically dissimilar, suggesting plasmid transmission. Therefore, WGS provided a wealth of data on prevalence of AMR genotypes and plasmid persistence absent from phenotypic data and, also, demonstrated the importance of culture media for detecting ESBL E. coli.

Original publication




Journal article


Scientific reports

Publication Date





Animal and Plant Health Agency, Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone, KT15 3NB, Surrey, UK.