Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is a driving force to the evolution of bacteria. The fast emergence of antimicrobial resistance reflects the ability of genetic adaptation of pathogens. Acinetobacter baumannii
has emerged in the last few decades as an important opportunistic nosocomial pathogen, in part due to its high capacity of acquiring resistance to diverse antibiotic families, including to the so-called last line drugs such as carbapenems. The rampant selective pressure and genetic exchange of resistance genes hinder the effective treatment of resistant infections. A. baumannii
uses all the resistance mechanisms to survive against carbapenems but production of carbapenemases are the major mechanism, which may act in synergy with others. A. baumannii
appears to use all the mechanisms of gene dissemination. Beyond conjugation, the mostly reported recent studies point to natural transformation, transduction and outer membrane vesicles-mediated transfer as mechanisms that may play a role in carbapenemase determinants spread. Understanding the genetic mobilization of carbapenemase genes is paramount in preventing their dissemination. Here we review the carbapenemases found in A. baumannii
and present an overview of the current knowledge of contributions of the various HGT mechanisms to the molecular epidemiology of carbapenem resistance in this relevant opportunistic pathogen.
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