Local and Environmental Reservoirs of Salmonella enterica After Hurricane Florence Flooding

Yuqing Mao, Mohamed Zeineldin, Moiz Usmani, Antarpreet Jutla, Joanna L. Shisler, Rachel J. Whitaker, Thanh H. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In many regions of the world, including the United States, human and animal fecal genetic markers have been found in flood waters. In this study, we use high-resolution whole genomic sequencing to examine the origin and distribution of Salmonella enterica after the 2018 Hurricane Florence flooding. We specifically asked whether S. enterica isolated from water samples collected near swine farms in North Carolina shortly after Hurricane Florence had evidence of swine origin. To investigate this, we isolated and fully sequenced 18 independent S. enterica strains from 10 locations (five flooded and five unflooded). We found that all strains have extremely similar chromosomes with only five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and possessed two plasmids assigned bioinformatically to the incompatibility groups IncFIB and IncFII. The chromosomal core genome and the IncFIB plasmid are most closely related to environmental Salmonella strains isolated previously from the southeastern US. In contrast, the IncFII plasmid was found in environmental S. enterica strains whose genomes were more divergent, suggesting the IncFII plasmid is more promiscuous than the IncFIB type. We identified 65 antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in each of our 18 S. enterica isolates. All ARGs were located on the Salmonella chromosome, similar to other previously characterized environmental isolates. All isolates with different SNPs were resistant to a panel of commonly used antibiotics. These results highlight the importance of environmental sources of antibiotic-resistant S. enterica after extreme flood events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023GH000877
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Salmonella
  • flood
  • long-read
  • mobile genetic element
  • whole-genome sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Epidemiology
  • Global and Planetary Change


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