Specific members of the genus Bifidobacterium are among the first colonizers of the human/animal gut, where they act as important intestinal commensals associated with host health. As part of the gut microbiota, bifidobacteria may be exposed to antibiotics, used in particular for intrapartum prophylaxis, especially to prevent Streptococcus infections, or in the very early stages of life after the birth. In the current study, we reconstructed the in silico resistome of the Bifidobacterium genus, analyzing a database composed of 625 bifidobacterial genomes, including partial assembled strains with less than 100 genomic sequences. Furthermore, we screened bifidobacterial genomes for mobile genetic elements, such as transposases and prophage-like elements, in order to investigate the correlation between the bifido-mobilome and the bifido-resistome, also identifying genetic insertion hotspots that appear to be prone to horizontal gene transfer (HGT) events. These insertion hotspots were shown to be widely distributed among analyzed bifidobacterial genomes, and suggest the acquisition of antibiotic resistance genes through HGT events. These data were further corroborated by growth experiments directed to evaluate bacitracin A resistance in Bifidobacterium spp., a property that was predicted by in silico analyses to be part of the HGTacquired resistome.
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