Impacts of human activities on distribution of sulfate-reducing prokaryotes and antibiotic resistance genes in marine coastal sediments of Hong Kong

Feng Guo, Bing Li, Ying Yang, Yu Deng, Jian Wen Qiu, Xiangdong Li, Kenneth M.Y. Leung, Tong Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Sulfate-reducing prokaryotes (SRPs) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in sediments could be biomarkers for evaluating the environmental impacts of human activities, although factors governing their distribution are not clear yet. By using metagenomic approach, this study investigated the distributions of SRPs and ARGs in marine sediments collected from 12 different coastal locations of Hong Kong, which exhibited different pollution levels and were classified into two groups based on sediment parameters. Our results showed that relative abundances of major SRP genera to total prokaryotes were consistently lower in the more seriously polluted sediments (P-value < 0.05 in 13 of 20 genera), indicating that the relative abundance of SRPs is a negatively correlated biomarker for evaluating human impacts. Moreover, a unimodel distribution pattern for SRPs along with the pollution gradient was observed. Although total ARGs were enriched in sediments from the polluted sites, distribution of single major ARG types could be explained neither by individual sediment parameters nor by corresponding concentration of antibiotics. It supports the hypothesis that the persistence of ARGs in sediments may not need the selection of antibiotics. In summary, our study provided important hints of the niche differentiation of SRPs and behavior of ARGs in marine coastal sediment.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfiw128
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Environmental behavior
  • Metagenome
  • Microbial community
  • Pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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