The emergence of a multidrug resistant Salmonella Muenchen in Israel is associated with horizontal acquisition of the epidemic pESI plasmid

Emiliano Cohen, Or Kriger, Sharon Amit, Maya Davidovich, Galia Rahav, Ohad Gal-Mor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Horizontal acquisition of mobile genetic elements is a powerful evolutionary driving force that can profoundly affect pathogens epidemiology and their interactions with the environment and host. In the last decade, the role of the epidemic megaplasmid, pESI was demonstrated in the global emergence of multi-drug resistant (MDR) Salmonella enterica serovar Infantis strains, but it was unknown if this was a one-time phenomenon, or that pESI can drive the emergence of other pathogens. Methods: Epidemiological, molecular, whole genome sequencing, de-novo assembly, bioinformatics and genetic approaches were used to analyze the emergence of a pESI-positive Salmonella enterica serovar Muenchen strain in Israel. Results: Since 2018, we report the emergence and high prevalence of S. Muenchen in Israel, which consisted at 2020, 40% (1055/2671) of all clinical Salmonella isolates. We show that the emergence of S. Muenchen is dominated by a clonal MDR strain, report its complete assembled genome sequence, and demonstrate that in contrast to preemergent strains, it harbors the epidemic megaplasmid, pESI, which can be self-mobilized into E. coli and other Salmonella serovars. Additionally, we identified bioinformatically highly similar genomes of clinical isolates that were recently collected in South Africa, UK and USA. Conclusions: This is a second documented case of a pathogen emergence associated with pESI acquisition. Considering the genetic cargo of pESI that enhances resistance, stress tolerance and virulence, and its ability to conjugate into prevalent Salmonella serovars, we provide further support that pESI facilities the emergence and spreading of new Salmonella strains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1499.e7-1499.e14
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


FundersFunder number
Research Cooperation Lower Saxony – Israel
Broad Institute
Volkswagen Foundation2616/18
German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and DevelopmentA128055
Israel Science Foundation


    • Antibiotic resistance
    • Conjugation
    • Emerging pathogens
    • Epidemiology
    • MDR
    • Outbreak
    • Salmonella Muenchen
    • Salmonellosis
    • pESI


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