Survival of strain 168 containing plasmid pAB224, which carries a gene for tetracycline resistance, was studied in mushroom compost under mesophilic and thermophilic conditions. Stable populations of were maintained as spores in both sterile and fresh mushroom compost incubated at 37°C. At 65°C, the introduced populations declined during incubation but spores were still detectable after 28 d. Survival at the higher temperature was greater in fresh than in sterile compost. There was no apparent loss of plasmid pAB224 or plasmid-determined phenotype from the introduced population at either incubation temperature. The frequency of tetracycline resistance in the indigenous population was very low (10), but some tetracycline-resistant isolates contained plasmid DNA. Four plasmid DNA profiles were found associated with five phenotypes, and some evidence for homology with pAB224 was found. However, pAB224 was found to be a suitable marker for release studies because it was easily recovered, readily distinguished from indigenous plasmids on agarose gels, and was maintained in compost-grown 168 in the absence of any selective pressure.


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