Circulation of mobile genetic elements linked to drug resistance spread was studied in Vibrio strains isolated from surface urban water (river and sea) and shellfish samples in 2002-2003 in Maputo, Mozambique. Class 1 integrons and integrating conjugative elements (ICE) were investigated by PCR and mating experiments in strains of major health interest: 10 Vibrio cholerae, six Vibrio parahaemolyticus, two Vibrio alginolyticus and one Vibrio fluvialis. Resistance to at least two antibiotics (predominantly β-lactams) was detected in all the strains, with additional resistances to sulfamethoxazole, spectinomycin, streptomycin and/or trimethoprim. Class 1 integrons contributed partially to the expression of drug resistance and were found in five isolates: four V. cholerae (blaP1 cassette, one strain also contained the dfrA15 cassette) and one V. alginolyticus (aadA2 cassette). ICEs, apparently devoid of resistance genes, were found in eight V. cholerae, three V. parahaemolyticus and one V. fluvialis isolates. A wide variability was observed by molecular characterization of ICEs. Five ICEs were included in the SXT/R391 family and seven ICEs were not classified. Our results indicate that the SXT/R391 family and related ICEs comprise a large class of polymorphic genetic elements widely circulating in environmental Vibrio strains in Africa, beside those evidently linked to drug resistance in clinical isolates. © 2008 Federation of European Microbiological Societies Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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