Fitness costs of various mobile genetic elements in Enterococcus faecium and Enterococcus faecalis
AuthorStarikova, Irina; Al-Haroni, Mohammed; Werner, Guido; Roberts, Adam P.; Nielsen, Kåre M.; Johnsen, Pål Jarle
Methods: Different MGEs, including two conjugative transposons (CTns) of the Tn916 family (18 and 33 kb), a pathogenicity island (PAI) of 200 kb and vancomycin-resistance (vanA) plasmids (80 –200 kb) of various origins and classes, were transferred into common ancestral E. faecium and E. faecalis strains by conjugation assays and experimentally evolved (vanA plasmids only). Transconjugants were characterized by PFGE, S1 nuclease assays and Southern blotting hybridization analyses. Single specific primer PCR was performed to determine the target sites for the insertion of the CTns. The fitness costs of various MGEs in E. faecium and E. faecalis were estimated in head-to-head competition experiments, and evolved populations were generated in serial transfer assays.
Results: The biological cost of a newly acquired PAI and two CTns were both host- and insertion-locus-dependent. Newly acquired vanA plasmids may severely reduce host fitness (25% –27%), but these costs were rapidly mitigated after only 400 generations of continuous growth in the absence of antibiotic selection.
Conclusions: Newly acquired MGEs may impose an immediate biological cost in E. faecium. However, as demonstrated for vanAplasmids, the initial costs of MGEcarriagemay bemitigated during growth and beneficial plasmid– host association can rapidly emerge.