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The presence of antibiotic resistance genes in coastal soil and sediment samples from the eastern seaboard of the USA

Griffin, Dale W., Benzel, W. M., Fisher, S. C., Focazio, M. J., Iwanowicz, L. R., Loftin, K. A., Reilly, T. J., Jones, D. K.
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2019 v.191 no.Supplement 2 pp. 300
antibiotic resistance, antibiotic resistance genes, antibiotics, coastal sediments, coastal soils, domestic animals, financial economics, humans, hydrology, microorganisms, polymerase chain reaction, public health, risk, watersheds, wildlife, United States
Infections from antibiotic resistant microorganisms are considered to be one of the greatest global public health challenges that result in huge annual economic losses. While genes that impart resistance to antibiotics (AbR) existed long before the discovery and use of antibiotics, anthropogenic uses of antibiotics in agriculture, domesticated animals, and humans are known to influence the prevalence of these genes in pathogenic microorganisms. It is critical to understand the role that natural and anthropogenic processes have on the occurrence and distribution of antibiotic resistance in microbial populations to minimize health risks associated with exposures. As part of this research, 15 antibiotic resistance genes were analyzed in coastal sediments and soils along the eastern seaboard of the USA using presence/absence quantitative and digital polymerase chain reaction assays. Samples (53 soil and 192 sediment samples including 54 replicates) were collected from a variety of coastal settings where human and wildlife exposure is likely. At least one of the antibiotic resistance genes was detected in 76.4% of the samples. Samples that contained at least five or more antibiotic resistance genes (5.7%) where typically hydrologically down gradient of watersheds influenced by combined sewer outfalls (CSO). The most frequently detected antibiotic resistance target genes were found in 33.2%, 34.4%, and 42.2% of samples (target genes blaSHV, tetO, and aadA2, respectively). These data provide unique insight into potential exposure of AbR genes over a large geographical region of the eastern seaboard of the USA.