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Occurrence and spatial variation of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in the Hetao Irrigation District, China

Shi, Wei, Zhang, Hong, Li, Junjian, Liu, Yong, Shi, Rui, Du, Hongyu, Chen, Jianwen
Environmental pollution 2019 v.251 pp. 792-801
agricultural land, animal husbandry, antibiotic resistance genes, drainage, drainage channels, ecosystems, irrigated farming, irrigation systems, public health, ribosomal RNA, risk, urban areas, watersheds, China, Yellow River
The prevalence and proliferation of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) has been identified as an emerging contaminant of concern and a crucial threat to public health worldwide. To determine the occurrence and distribution of ARGs in artificial agricultural irrigation systems, we designed eight sample sites of farmland drainage in the Hetao Irrigation District, Inner Mongolia, China. Results indicated that the distribution of ARGs in sub-drainage canals is influenced by the local urban area, agriculture, and animal husbandry structure. The blaTEM gene was predominant in the water samples (up to 8.98 ARG copies/16S rRNA genes). The average ARG abundance in drainage channel sampling sites was significantly higher than the influent water from the Yellow River, which means that the artificial agricultural irrigation system enhances the abundance of resistance genes in the study area. Moreover, the effluent water of the whole irrigation system presented a lower abundance of ARGs than the influent water. This demonstrates that the Wuliangsuhai watershed ecosystem plays an important role in regulating the abundance of ARGs in the area. In our study, the mobile gene elements correlated with trB, emrD, mexF, and vanC (P < 0.001) in the irrigation system. Additionally, different correlations exist between other special subtypes of ARGs. These findings provided deeper insights into mitigating the propagation of ARGs and the associated risks to public health.