Genomic insights into the pathogenicity and environmental adaptability of Enterococcus hirae R17 isolated from pork offered for retail sale

Zixin Peng, Menghan Li, Wei Wang, Hongtao Liu, Séamus Fanning, Yujie Hu, Jianzhong Zhang*, Fengqin Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Genetic information about Enterococcus hirae is limited, a feature that has compromised our understanding of these clinically challenging bacteria. In this study, comparative analysis was performed of E. hirae R17, a daptomycin-resistant strain isolated from pork purchased from a retail market in Beijing, China, and three other enterococcal genomes (Enterococcus faecium DO, Enterococcus faecalis V583, and E. hirae ATCC9790). Some 1,412 genes were identified that represented the core genome together with an additional 139 genes that were specific to E. hirae R17. The functions of these R17 strain-specific coding sequences relate to the COGs categories of carbohydrate transport and metabolism and transcription, a finding that suggests the carbohydrate utilization capacity of E. hirae R17 may be more extensive when compared with the other three bacterial species (spp.). Analysis of genomic islands and virulence genes highlighted the potential that horizontal gene transfer played as a contributor of variations in pathogenicity in this isolate. Drug-resistance gene prediction and antibiotic susceptibility testing indicated E. hirae R17 was resistant to several antimicrobial compounds, including bacitracin, ciprofloxacin, daptomycin, erythromycin, and tetracycline, thereby limiting chemotherapeutic treatment options. Further, tolerance to biocides and metals may confer a phenotype that facilitates the survival and adaptation of this isolate against food preservatives, disinfectants, and antibacterial coatings. The genomic plasticity, mediated by IS elements, transposases, and tandem repeats, identified in the E. hirae R17 genome may support adaptation to new environmental niches, such as those that are found in hospitalized patients. A predicted transmissible plasmid, pRZ1, was found to carry several antimicrobial determinants, along with some predicted pathogenic genes. These data supported the previously determined phenotype confirming that the foodborne E. hirae R17 is a multidrug-resistant pathogenic bacterium with evident genome plasticity and environmental adaptability.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00514
Issue number6
Early online date10 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was financially supported by the Beijing Talents Fund of the Beijing Municipal Organization Department (grant 2014000021223ZK46), the Beijing Nova Program Interdisciplinary Cooperation Project (grant Z161100004916029), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation funded project (grant 2016M590072), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant 31601574)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors. MicrobiologyOpen published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • drug-resistance gene
  • Enterococcus hirae
  • genomic island
  • genomic plasticity
  • mobile genetic element
  • virulence gene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology


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