Horizontal and vertical gene transfer drive sediment antibiotic resistome in an urban lagoon system

Changping Yu , Hongjie Wang , Liyuan Hou , Yongqin Liu , Keshao Liu , Lanping Zhang , Fuyi Huang , Lin Wang , Azhar Rashid , Anyi Hu


Received June 25, 2020,Revised , Accepted September 15, 2020, Available online September 25, 2020

Volume 102,2021,Pages 11-23

Rapid urbanization has resulted in pervasive occurrence of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in urban aquatic ecosystems. However, limited information is available concerning the ARG profiles and the forces responsible for their assembly in urban landscape lagoon systems. Here, we employed high-throughput quantitative PCR (HT-qPCR) to characterize the spatial variations of ARGs in surface and core sediments of Yundang Lagoon, China. The results indicated that the average richness and absolute abundance of ARGs were 11 and 53 times higher in the lagoon sediments as compared to pristine reference Tibetan lake sediments, highlighting the role of anthropogenic activities in ARG pollution. Co-occurrence network analysis indicated that various anaerobic prokaryotic genera belonging to Alpha-, Deltaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Euryarchaeota, Firmicutes and Synergistetes were the potential hosts of ARGs. The partial least squares-path modeling (PLS-PM) analysis revealed positive and negative indirect effects of physicochemical factors and heavy metals on the lagoon ARG profiles, via biotic factors, respectively. The horizontal (mediated by mobile genetic elements) and vertical (mediated by prokaryotic communities) gene transfer may directly contribute the most to drive the abundance and composition of ARGs, respectively. Furthermore, the neutral community model demonstrated that the assembly of sediment ARG communities was jointly governed by deterministic and stochastic processes. Overall, this study provides novel insights into the diversity and distribution of ARGs in the benthic habitat of urban lagoon systems and underlying mechanisms for the spread and proliferation of ARGs.

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