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Daphnia as a refuge for an antibiotic resistance gene in an experimental freshwater community

Eckert, Ester M., Di Cesare, Andrea, Stenzel, Birgit, Fontaneto, Diego, Corno, Gianluca
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.571 pp. 77-81
Daphnia obtusa, antibiotic resistance, bacteria, bacterial communities, freshwater, genes, microbiome, niches, tetracycline
Mechanisms that enable the maintenance of antibiotic resistance genes in the environment are still greatly unknown. Here we show that the tetracycline resistance gene tet(A) is largely removed from the pelagic aquatic bacterial community through filter feeding by Daphnia obtusa while it becomes detectable within the microbiome of the daphniids themselves, where it was not present prior to the experiment. We moreover show that a multitude of Daphnia-associated bacterial taxa are potential carriers of tet(A) and postulated that the biofilm-like structures, where bacteria grow in, may enable horizontal transfer of such genes. This experiment highlights the need to take ecological interactions and a broad range of niches into consideration when studying and discussing the fate of antibiotic resistance genes in nature.