Diverse bacterial hosts and potential risk of antibiotic resistomes in ship ballast water revealed by metagenomic binning

Baoyi Lv, Changhai Jiang, Yangchun Han, Dong Wu, Ling Jin, Guorong Zhu, Tingxuan An, Jianhong Shi

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Ship ballast water promoting the long-range migration of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) has raised a great concern. This study attempted to reveal ARGs profile in ballast water and decipher their hosts and potential risk using metagenomic approaches. In total, 710 subtypes across 26 ARG types were identified among the ballast water samples from 13 ships of 11 countries and regions, and multidrug resistance genes were the most dominant ARGs. The composition of ARGs were obviously different across samples, and only 5% of the ARG subtypes were shared by all samples. Procrustes analysis showed the bacterial community contributed more than the mobile genetic elements (MGEs) in shaping the antibiotic resistome. Further, 79 metagenome-assembled genomes (46 genera belong to four phyla) were identified as ARG hosts, with predominantly affiliated with the Proteobacteria. Notably, potential human pathogens (Alcaligenes, Mycolicibacterium, Rhodococcus and Pseudomonas) were also recognized as the ARG hosts. Above 30% of the ARGs hosts contained the MGEs simultaneously, supporting a pronounced horizontal gene transfer capability. A total of 43 subtypes (six percent of overall ARGs) of ARGs were assessed with high-risk, of which 23 subtypes belonged to risk Rank I (including rsmA, ugd, etc.) and 20 subtypes to the risk Rank II (including aac(6)-I, sul1, etc.). In addition, antibiotic resistance risk index indicated the risk of ARGs in ballast water from choke points of maritime trade routes was significantly higher than that from other regions. Overall, this study offers insights for risk evaluation and management of antibiotic resistance in ballast water.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119056
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2024


  • Antibiotic resistance genes
  • Bacterial host
  • Horizontal gene transfer
  • Long distance migration
  • Risk assessment
  • Ship ballast water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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