Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 37414963
Link to DOI – 10.1038/s41598-023-37821-7
Sci Rep 2023 Jul; 13(1): 10957
Increasing reports on K. pneumoniae strains with antimicrobial resistance and virulence traits from food and farm animals are raising concerns about the potential role of Klebsiella spp. as a foodborne pathogen. This study aimed to report and characterize Klebsiella spp. isolates from two artisanal ready-to-eat food (soft cheese and salami) producing facilities, and to track similar genotypes in different ecological niches. Over 1170 samples were collected during the whole production chain of different food batches. The overall Klebsiella prevalence was 6%. Strains were classified into the three Klebsiella species complexes: K. pneumoniae (KpSC, n = 17), K. oxytoca (KoSC, n = 38) and K. planticola (KplaSC, n = 18). Despite high genetic diversity we found in terms of known and new sequence types (STs), core genome phylogeny revealed clonal strains persisting in the same processing setting for over 14 months, isolated from the environment, raw materials and end-products. Strains showed a natural antimicrobial resistance phenotype-genotype. K. pneumoniae strains showed the highest virulence potential, with sequence types ST4242 and ST107 strains carrying yersiniabactin ybt16 and aerobactin iuc3. The latter was detected in all K. pneumoniae from salami and was located on a large conjugative plasmid highly similar (97% identity) to iuc3+ plasmids from human and pig strains circulating in nearby regions of Italy. While identical genotypes may persist along the whole food production process, different genotypes from distinct sources in the same facility shared an iuc3-plasmid. Surveillance in the food chain will be crucial to obtain a more comprehensive picture of the circulation of Klebsiella strains with pathogenic potential.