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Keywords:

  • mutation frequencies;
  • hypermutation;
  • bloodstream infection;
  • urinary tract infection

Abstract

In bacteria, complex adaptive processes are involved during transition from the planktonic to the biofilm mode of growth, and mutator strains are more prone to producing biofilms. Enterobacteriaceae species were isolated from urinary tract infections (UTIs; 222 strains) and from bloodstream infections (BSIs; 213 strains). Relationship between the hypermutable phenotype and biofilm forming capacity was investigated in these clinical strains. Mutation frequencies were estimated by monitoring the capacity of each strain to generate mutations that conferred rifampicin resistance on supplemented medium. Initiation of biofilm formation was assayed by determining the ability of the cells to adhere to a 96-well polystyrene microtitre plate. UTI Enterobacteriaceae strains showed significantly higher biofilm-forming capacity: 63.1% (54.0% for E. coli strains) vs. 42.3% for BSI strains (47.7% for E. coli). Strains isolated from UTIs did not present higher mutation frequencies than those from BSIs: contrary to what has been widely described for P. aeruginosa strains, isolated from pulmonary samples in patients suffering from cystic fibrosis, no relationship was found between the hypermutator phenotype in Enterobacteriaceae and the ability to initiate a biofilm.