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Metagenomic profiling of ARGs in airborne particulate matters during a severe smog event

Hu, Jialin, Zhao, Fuzheng, Zhang, Xu-Xiang, Li, Kan, Li, Chaoran, Ye, Lin, Li, Mei
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.615 pp. 1332-1340
Lactobacillus, airborne microorganisms, aminoglycosides, antibiotic resistance genes, antibiotics, bacterial communities, beta-lactams, metagenomics, meteorological parameters, particulates, risk assessment, soil
Information is currently limited regarding the distribution of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in smog and their correlations with airborne bacteria. This study characterized the diversity and abundance of ARGs in the particulate matters (PMs) of severe smog based on publicly available metagenomic data, and revealed the occurrence of 205 airborne ARG subtypes, including 31 dominant ones encoding resistance to 11 antibiotic types. Among the detectable ARGs, tetracycline, β-lactam and aminoglycoside resistance genes had the highest abundance, and smog and soil had similar composition characteristics of ARGs. During the smog event, the total abundance of airborne ARGs ranged from 4.90 to 38.07ppm in PM2.5 samples, and from 7.61 to 38.49ppm in PM10 samples, which were 1.6–7.7 times and 2.1–5.1 times of those in the non-smog day, respectively. The airborne ARGs showed complicated co-occurrence patterns, which were heavily influenced by the interaction of bacterial community, and physicochemical and meteorological factors. Lactobacillus and sulfonamide resistance gene sul1 were determined as keystones in the co-occurrence network of microbial taxa and airborne ARGs. The results may help to understand the distribution patterns of ARGs in smog for the potential health risk evaluation.