The dynamics of occurrence and the genetic basis of ciprofloxacin resistance were studied in a long-term evolution experiment (940 generations) in wild-type, reference strain (PAO1) and hypermutable (PAOΔmutS and PAOMY-Mgm) P. aeruginosa populations continuously exposed to sub-MICs (1/4) of ciprofloxacin. A rapid occurrence of ciprofloxacin-resistant mutants (MIC of ≥12 μg/ml, representing 100 times the MIC of the original population) were observed in all ciprofloxacin-exposed lineages of PAOΔmutS and PAOMY-Mgm populations after 100 and 170 generations, respectively, and in one of the PAO1 lineages after 240 generations. The genetic basis of resistance was mutations in gyrA (C248T and G259T) and gyrB (C1397A). Cross-resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics was observed in the bacterial populations that evolved during exposure to sublethal concentrations of ciprofloxacin. Our study shows that mutants with high-level ciprofloxacin resistance are selected in P. aeruginosa bacterial populations exposed to sub-MICs of ciprofloxacin. This can have implications for the long-term persistence of resistant bacteria and spread of antibiotic resistance by exposure of commensal bacterial flora to low antibiotic concentrations.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 2013, Vol 57, Issue 9, p. 4215-4221