The prevalence of extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs) among clinical isolates of Escherichia coli has been increasing, with this spread driven by ESBL-encoding plasmids. However, the epidemiology of ESBL-disseminating plasmids remains understudied, obscuring the roles of individual plasmid lineages in ESBL spread. To address this, we performed an in-depth genomic investigation of 149 clinical ESBL-like E. coli isolates from a tertiary care hospital. We obtained high-quality assemblies for 446 plasmids, revealing an extensive map of plasmid sharing that crosses time, space, and bacterial sequence type boundaries. Through a sequencebased network, we identified specific plasmid lineages that are responsible for the dissemination of major ESBLs. Notably, we demonstrate that IncF plasmids separate into 2 distinct lineages that are enriched for different ESBLs and occupy distinct host ranges. Our work provides a detailed picture of plasmid-mediated spread of ESBLs, demonstrating the extensive sequence diversity within identified lineages, while highlighting the genetic elements that underlie the persistence of these plasmids within the clinical E. coli population.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Escherichia coli
  • beta-lactamases
  • plasmid-mediated resistance


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