Background: Acinetobacter baumannii is a healthcare-associated pathogen with high rates of carbapenem resistance. Colistin is now routinely used for treatment of infections by this pathogen. However, colistin use has been associated with development of resistance to this agent. Objectives: To elucidate the phylogenomics of colistin-susceptible and -resistant A. baumannii strain pairs from a cohort of hospitalized patients at a tertiary medical centre in the USA. Methods: WGS data from 21 pairs of colistin-susceptible and -resistant, XDR clinical strains were obtained and compared using phylogeny of aligned genome sequences, assessment of pairwise SNP differences and gene content. Results: Fourteen patients had colistin-resistant strains that were highly genetically related to their own original susceptible strain with a median pairwise SNP distance of 5.5 (range 1–40 SNPs), while seven other strain pairs were divergent with 84 SNP differences. In addition, several strains from different patients formed distinct clusters on the phylogeny in keeping with closely linked transmission chains. The majority of colistin-resistant strains contained non-synonymous mutations within the pmrAB locus suggesting a central role for pmrAB mutations in colistin resistance. Excellent genotype–phenotype correlation was also observed for carbapenems, aminoglycosides and tetracyclines. Conclusions: The findings suggest that colistin resistance in the clinical setting arises through both in vivo evolution from colistin-susceptible strains and reinfection by unrelated colistin-resistant strains, the latter of which may involve patient-to-patient transmission.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases
- Pharmacology (medical)