OBJECTIVES: Fluoroquinolone resistance poses a threat to the successful treatment of tuberculosis. WGS, and the subsequent detection of catalogued resistance-associated mutations, offers an attractive solution to fluoroquinolone susceptibility testing but sensitivities are often less than 90%. We hypothesize that this is partly because the bioinformatic pipelines used usually mask the recognition of minor alleles that have been implicated in fluoroquinolone resistance. METHODS: We analysed the Comprehensive Resistance Prediction for Tuberculosis: an International Consortium (CRyPTIC) dataset of globally diverse WGS Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates, with matched MICs for two fluoroquinolone drugs and allowed putative minor alleles to contribute to resistance prediction. RESULTS: Detecting minor alleles increased the sensitivity of WGS for moxifloxacin resistance prediction from 85.4% to 94.0%, without significantly reducing specificity. We also found no correlation between the proportion of an M. tuberculosis population containing a resistance-conferring allele and the magnitude of resistance. CONCLUSIONS: Together our results highlight the importance of detecting minor resistance-conferring alleles when using WGS, or indeed any sequencing-based approach, to diagnose fluoroquinolone resistance.
JAC Antimicrob Resist