• Aeromonas;
  • antibiotic resistance;
  • food;
  • PFGE;
  • virulence genes

Abstract:  A total of 154 food samples (chicken, fish, and ready-to-eat sprouts) from various retail outlets in Mumbai, India, were analyzed for the presence of Aeromonas spp. over a period of 2 y (January 2006 to March 2008). Twenty-two Aeromonas isolates belonging to 7 different species were isolated from 18 (11.7%) food samples. The highest percentages of isolation were from chicken (28.6%) followed by fish (20%) and sprout (2.5%) samples. Aeromonas caviae, A. veronii bv. sobria, and A. salmonicida were the most frequently isolated species from sprouts, chicken, and fish samples, respectively. The genes encoding for putative virulence factors, cytotoxic enterotoxin (act), hemolysin (hly), aerolysin (aer), elastase (ahyB), and lipase (lip) were detected using polymerase chain reaction method in 59.1%, 40.9%, 22.7%, 54.5%, and 31.8% of the strains, respectively. The isolated Aeromonas strains were found to be positive for virulence factors, that is, amylase, DNase, gelatinase, protease, and lipase production. More than 60% isolates were also positive for β-hemolytic activity. All these food isolates were found to be resistant to ampicillin and bacitracin, and sensitive to gentamicin, 3rd-generation cephalosporins (ceftazidime, cephotaxime, ceftriaxone), and chloramphenicol. Seventeen (77.2%) isolates harbored single and/or multiple plasmids (approximately 5 to >16 kb). The XbaI digestion patterns of chromosomal DNA of these isolates, using pulsed field gel electrophoresis, showed high genetic diversity among these isolates. Our results demonstrate the presence of various Aeromonas spp. with virulence potential and antimicrobial resistance in different food products marketed in Mumbai, India. The potential health risks posed by consumption of these raw or undercooked food products should not be underestimated.