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Characterization of airborne antibiotic resistance genes from typical bioaerosol emission sources in the urban environment using metagenomic approach

Yang, Ying, Zhou, Renjun, Chen, Baowei, Zhang, Tong, Hu, Ligang, Zou, Shichun
Chemosphere 2018 v.213 pp. 463-471
aminoglycosides, animals, antibiotic resistance genes, bacitracin, bioaerosols, feces, metagenomics, multiple drug resistance, pollution, tetracycline, urban areas, wastewater treatment, China
The wide spread of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) has attracted increasing concern. However, the occurrence and diversity of ARGs in airborne particles remains to be understood. In this study, total suspended particles (TSP) in the atmosphere were collected from typical sources of ARG pollution, including animal farms and wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), as well as the downtown area in Zhuhai, China. Metagenomic profiling demonstrated that ARGs were abundant and diverse in the TSP from animal farms and WWTP, but significant differences in ARG composition pattern between these samples were observed. ARGs associated with the resistance to aminoglycoside, macrolide-lincosamide-streptogramin (MLS) and tetracycline were dominant over other ARGs in the TSP of the animal farms, whereas multidrug and bacitracin resistance genes were more abundant than other ARGs in the TSP of the WWTP. In the animal farms, ARG profiles of the TSP were consistent with those of animal feces, indicating that animal feces could be one of the most contributing sources of airborne ARGs in animal farms. In contrast to representative sources of ARG pollution, ARG abundance and diversity in the TSP collected from the downtown area was relatively low, with multidrug resistance genes being predominant. This study suggests that metagenomic profiling of the ARGs in airborne TSP could enhance our comprehensive understanding of ARGs dissemination in the environment and their potential health threats.