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Photo of Tobias Ambjörnsson

Tobias Ambjörnsson

Senior lecturer

Photo of Tobias Ambjörnsson

A simple cut and stretch assay to detect antimicrobial resistance genes on bacterial plasmids by single-molecule fluorescence microscopy


  • Gaurav Goyal
  • Elina Ekedahl
  • My Nyblom
  • Jens Krog
  • Erik Fröbrant
  • Magnus Brander
  • Tsegaye Sewunet
  • Teerawit Tangkoskul
  • Christian G. Giske
  • Linus Sandegren
  • Visanu Thamlikitkul
  • Tobias Ambjörnsson
  • Fredrik Westerlund

Summary, in English

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a fast-growing threat to global health. The genes conferring AMR to bacteria are often located on plasmids, circular extrachromosomal DNA molecules that can be transferred between bacterial strains and species. Therefore, effective methods to characterize bacterial plasmids and detect the presence of resistance genes can assist in managing AMR, for example, during outbreaks in hospitals. However, existing methods for plasmid analysis either provide limited information or are expensive and challenging to implement in low-resource settings. Herein, we present a simple assay based on CRISPR/Cas9 excision and DNA combing to detect antimicrobial resistance genes on bacterial plasmids. Cas9 recognizes the gene of interest and makes a double-stranded DNA cut, causing the circular plasmid to linearize. The change in plasmid configuration from circular to linear, and hence the presence of the AMR gene, is detected by stretching the plasmids on a glass surface and visualizing by fluorescence microscopy. This single-molecule imaging based assay is inexpensive, fast, and in addition to detecting the presence of AMR genes, it provides detailed information on the number and size of plasmids in the sample. We demonstrate the detection of several β-lactamase-encoding genes on plasmids isolated from clinical samples. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the assay can be performed using standard microbiology and clinical laboratory equipment, making it suitable for low-resource settings.


  • Computational Biology and Biological Physics - Undergoing reorganization

Publishing year





Scientific Reports





Document type

Journal article


Nature Publishing Group


  • Microbiology




  • ISSN: 2045-2322