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Influence of Soil Characteristics and Proximity to Antarctic Research Stations on Abundance of Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Soils

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Title
Influence of Soil Characteristics and Proximity to Antarctic Research Stations on Abundance of Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Soils
Authors
Wang, Fang
Stedtfeld, Robert D.
Kim, Ok-Sun
Chai, Benli
Yang, Luxi
Stedtfeld, Tiffany M.
Hong, Soon Gyu
Kim, Dockyu
Lim, Hyoun Soo
Hashsham, Syed A.
Tiedje, James M.
Sul, Woo Jun
Subject
Engineering; Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Keywords
Antarctic soil; Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs); Gondwana Research Station; Jang Bogo Station; Mobile genetic elements (MGE); Pristine environmental soil; qPCR array
Issue Date
2016
Citation
Wang, Fang, et al. 2016. "Influence of Soil Characteristics and Proximity to Antarctic Research Stations on Abundance of Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Soils". Environmental Science & Technology, 50: 12621-12629.
Abstract
Soil is an important environmental reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), which are increasingly recognized as environmental contaminants. Methods to assess the risks associated with the acquisition or transfer of resistance mechanisms are still underdeveloped. Quantification of background levels of antibiotic resistance genes and what alters those is a first step in understanding our environmental resistome. Toward this goal, 62 samples were collected over 3 years from soils near the 30-year old Gondwana Research Station and for 4 years before and during development of the new Jang Bogo Research Station, both at Terra Nova Bay in Antarctica. These sites reflect limited and more extensive human impact, respectively. A qPCR array with 384 primer sets targeting antibiotic resistance genes and mobile genetic elements (MGEs) was used to detect and quantify these genes. A total of 73 ARGs and MGEs encompassing eight major antibiotic resistance gene categories were detected, but most at very low levels. Antarctic soil appeared to be a common reservoir for seven ARGs since they were present in most samples (42%-88%). If the seven widespread genes were removed, there was a correlation between the relative abundance of MGEs and ARGs, more typical of contaminated sites. There was a relationship between ARG content and distance from both research stations, with a significant effect at the Jang Bogo Station especially when excluding the seven widespread genes; however, the relative abundance of ARGs did not increase over the 4 year period. Silt, clay, total organic carbon, and SiO2 were the top edaphic factors that correlated with ARG abundance. Overall, this study identifies that human activity and certain soil characteristics correlate with antibiotic resistance genes in these oligotrophic Antarctic soils and provides a baseline of ARGs and MGEs for future comparisons.
DOI
http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b02863
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