Metagenomic Analysis Revealing Antibiotic Resistance Genes (ARGs) and Their Genetic Compartments in the Tibetan Environment

Baowei Chen, Ke Yuan, Xin Chen, Ying Yang, Tong Zhang, Yawei Wang, Tiangang Luan, Shichun Zou, Xiangdong Li

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94 Citations (Scopus)


Comprehensive profiles of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and mobile genetic elements (MGEs) in a minimally impacted environment are essential to understanding the evolution and dissemination of modern antibiotic resistance. Chemical analyses of the samples collected from Tibet demonstrated that the region under investigation was almost devoid of anthropogenic antibiotics. The soils, animal wastes, and sediments were different from each other in terms of bacterial community structures, and in the typical profiles of ARGs and MGEs. Diverse ARGs that encoded resistance to common antibiotics (e.g., beta-lactams, fluoroquinolones, etc.) were found mainly via an efflux mechanism completely distinct from modern antibiotic resistome. In addition, a very small fraction of ARGs in the Tibetan environment were carried by MGEs, indicating the low potential of these ARGs to be transferred among bacteria. In comparison to the ARG profiles in relatively pristine Tibet, contemporary ARGs and MGEs in human-impacted environments have evolved substantially since the broad use of anthropogenic antibiotics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6670-6679
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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