Bioavailability of potentially toxic elements influences antibiotic resistance gene and mobile genetic element abundances in urban and rural soils

Robins, Katie, McCann, Clare, Zhou, Xin-Yuan, Su, Jian-Qiang, Cooke, Martin, Knapp, Charles W. and Graham, David W. (2022) Bioavailability of potentially toxic elements influences antibiotic resistance gene and mobile genetic element abundances in urban and rural soils. Science of the Total Environment, 847. p. 157512. ISSN 0048-9697

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Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) that can encode resistance traits in bacteria are found across the environment. While it is often difficult to discern their origin, their prevalence and diversity depends on many factors, one of which is their exposure to potentially toxic elements (PTE, i.e., metals and metalloids) in soils. Here, we investigated how ambient ARGs and mobile genetic elements (MGEs) relate to the relative bioavailability of different PTEs (total versus exchangeable and carbonate-bound PTE) in rural and urban soils in northeast England. The average relative abundances of ARGs in rural sites varied over a 3-log range (7.24 × 10−7 to 1.0 × 10−4 genes/16S rRNA), and relative ARG abundances in urban sites varied by four orders of magnitude (1.75 × 10−6 to 2.85 × 10−2 genes/16S rRNA). While beta-lactam and aminoglycoside resistance genes dominated rural and urban sites, respectively, non-specific ARGs, also called multidrug-resistance genes, were significantly more abundant in urban sites (p < 0.05). Urban sites also had higher concentrations of total and exchangeable forms of PTE than rural sites, whereas rural sites were higher in carbonate-bound forms. Significant positive Spearman correlations between PTEs, ARGs and MGEs were apparent, especially with bioavailable PTE fractions and at urban sites. This study found significant positive correlations between ARGs and beryllium (Be), which has not previously been reported. Overall, our results show that PTE bioavailability is important in explaining the relative selection of ARGs in soil settings and must be considered in future co-selection and ARG exposure studies.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Theauthorsgivespecial thanks to Professor Yong-Guan Zhuforhishelp in developing this project. We also thank Dr Tanya Peshkur and Mara L. Knapp for their logistics support. The project was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (UKRI-NERC), #NE/N019776 and NE/N020626.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Antimicrobial resistance, Transposon, Integron, Metal. Landscape
Subjects: C400 Genetics
C700 Molecular Biology, Biophysics and Biochemistry
F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Applied Sciences
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2022 12:02
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2022 12:15

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