Six clinically isolated strains of Serratia marcescens were tested for their drug resistance. All showed fairly high resistance to many antimicrobial agents tested including norfloxacin, streptomycin, ampicillin, erythromycin, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, and antimicrobial dyes. Using the drug-hypersensitive strain of Escherichia coli KAM32 as the host, we cloned the genes responsible for multidrug resistance from chromosomal DNA of one of the strains of S. marcescens, NUSM8906. We obtained 28 hybrid plasmids that made host cells resistant to several antimicrobial agents. Many of the transformants harboring each of the plasmids showed multidrug resistance, and some showed resistance to specific drugs. The hybrid plasmids were classified into several groups based on their drug specificity. It appears that each class of plasmid carries different types of drug resistance genes. Analysis of such genes will reveal the multiple mechanisms involved in multidrug resistance in S. marcescens.
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