Mobile genetic elements (MGEs) are key agents in the spread of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) across environments. Here we used metagenomics to compare the river resistome (collection of all ARGs) and mobilome (e.g., integrases, transposases, integron integrases and insertion sequence common region “ISCR” elements) between samples collected upstream (n = 6) and downstream (n = 6) of an urban wastewater treatment plant (UWWTP). In comparison to upstream metagenomes, downstream metagenomes showed a drastic increase in the abundance of ARGs, as well as markers of MGEs, particularly integron integrases and ISCR elements. These changes were accompanied by a concomitant prevalence of 16S rRNA gene signatures of bacteria affiliated to families encompassing well-known human and animal pathogens. Our results confirm that chronic discharges of treated wastewater severely impact the river resistome affecting not only the abundance and diversity of ARGs but also their potential spread by enriching the river mobilome in a wide variety of MGEs.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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