Current Microbiology

, Volume 75, Issue 6, pp 752–759 | Cite as

Tellurite Resistance in Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli

  • Gentry L. Lewis
  • Quentin R. Jorgensen
  • John D. Loy
  • Rodney A. MoxleyEmail author


Potassium tellurite (K2TeO3) is an effective selective agent for O157:H7 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), whereas tellurite resistance in non-O157 STEC is variable with information on O45 minimal. High-level K2TeO3 resistance in STEC is attributable to the ter gene cluster with terD an indicator of the cluster’s presence. Polymerase chain reactions for terD and K2TeO3 minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) determinations in broth cultures were conducted on 70 STEC and 40 non-STEC control organisms. Sixty-six STEC strains (94.3%) were terD+ compared to 28 control organisms (70.0%; P < 0.001). The prevalence of terD in O103 STEC strains was 70%, whereas in all other serogroups it was ≥ 90%. The K2TeO3 geometric mean MIC ranking for STEC serogroups from highest to lowest was O111 > O26 > O145 > O157 > O103 > O121 = O45. The K2TeO3 geometric mean MIC was significantly higher in terD+ than in terD− STEC, but not in terD+ versus terD− control strains. Resistance to K2TeO3 (MIC ≥ 25 mg/L) was exhibited by 65/66 terD+ and 0/4 terD− STEC strains, compared to 12/28 terD+ and 8/12 terD− control strains. These results confirm previous studies showing the significantly higher prevalence of the ter gene cluster in STEC strains, and the relationship between these genes and K2TeO3 resistance in STEC and especially intimin (eae)-positive STEC, in contrast to non-STEC organisms. O45 and O121 STEC, although frequently terD positive, on average had significantly lower levels of K2TeO3 resistance than O26, O111, and O145 STEC.



This work is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant no. 2012-68003-30155 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The authors thank Jamie Bauman, Robert Fenton, Alexander Mueting, Matthew Schaich, Brandon Stewart, and Dr. Zachary Stromberg for laboratory assistance.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Dr. Loy has served as a consultant for, and thus has disclosed a significant financial interest in Harrisvaccines. In accordance with its Conflict of Interest policy, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Conflict of Interest in Research Committee has determined that this must be disclosed.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gentry L. Lewis
    • 1
  • Quentin R. Jorgensen
    • 1
  • John D. Loy
    • 1
  • Rodney A. Moxley
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical SciencesUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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