Send to

Choose Destination
ISME J. 2015 Nov;9(11):2490-502. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2015.59. Epub 2015 Apr 28.

Metagenomic and network analysis reveal wide distribution and co-occurrence of environmental antibiotic resistance genes.

Author information

Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.


A metagenomic approach and network analysis was used to investigate the wide-spectrum profiles of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and their co-occurrence patterns in 50 samples from 10 typical environments. In total, 260 ARG subtypes belonging to 18 ARG types were detected with an abundance range of 5.4 × 10(-6)-2.2 × 10(-1) copy of ARG per copy of 16S-rRNA gene. The trend of the total ARG abundances in environments matched well with the levels of anthropogenic impacts on these environments. From the less impacted environments to the seriously impacted environments, the total ARG abundances increased up to three orders of magnitude, that is, from 3.2 × 10(-3) to 3.1 × 10(0) copy of ARG per copy of 16S-rRNA gene. The abundant ARGs were associated with aminoglycoside, bacitracin, β-lactam, chloramphenicol, macrolide-lincosamide-streptogramin, quinolone, sulphonamide and tetracycline, in agreement with the antibiotics extensively used in human medicine or veterinary medicine/promoters. The widespread occurrences and abundance variation trend of vancomycin resistance genes in different environments might imply the spread of vancomycin resistance genes because of the selective pressure resulting from vancomycin use. The simultaneous enrichment of 12 ARG types in adult chicken faeces suggests the coselection of multiple ARGs in this production system. Non-metric multidimensional scaling analysis revealed that samples belonging to the same environment generally possessed similar ARG compositions. Based on the co-occurrence pattern revealed by network analysis, tetM and aminoglycoside resistance protein, the hubs of the ARG network, are proposed to be indicators to quantitatively estimate the abundance of 23 other co-occurring ARG subtypes by power functions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center