Bats as reservoirs of antibiotic resistance determinants

a survey of class 1 integrons in Grey-headed Flying Foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus)

Fiona McDougall*, Wayne Boardman, Michael Gillings, Michelle Power

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing reports of antimicrobial resistance in wildlife highlight the significance of a One Health approach to managing resistance. We investigated the prevalence and diversity of class 1 integrons, a genetic determinant of resistance, in grey-headed flying foxes, a large fruit bat species belonging to the order Chiroptera. Class 1 integrons were detected in both wild flying foxes (5.3%) and captive flying foxes (41.2%) housed in wildlife rehabilitation facilities. Genes encoding resistance to aminoglycosides, trimethoprim and beta-lactams, and Qac efflux pumps were detected. Analysis of conserved integron elements and gene cassette arrays indicate the direction of integron transfer is from humans to flying foxes. The detection of two novel gene cassette arrays (5′CS-qacH-aacA34-bla OXA-21 -3′CS and 5′CS-qacF-3′CS strongly suggests acquisition of genes from the environmental resistome into class 1 integrons within the flying fox microbiota. The dynamics of class 1 integrons in flying foxes indicates bats have a role in the emergence of novel antibiotic resistance determinants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-113
Number of pages7
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • antimicrobial resistance
  • bats
  • integron
  • One Health
  • resistome
  • reverse zoonosis

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