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Diverse and abundant antibiotic resistance genes in Chinese swine farms

Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) are emerging contaminants posing a potential worldwide human health risk. Intensive animal husbandry is believed to be a major contributor to the increased environmental burden of ARGs. We assessed type and concentrations of ARGs at three stages of manure processing to land disposal at three arge-scale (10,000 animals per year) commercial swine farms in China. High-capacity quantitative PCR arrays detected 149 unique resistance genes among all of the farm samples, the top 63 ARGs being enriched 192-fold (median) up to 28,000-fold (maximum) compared with their respective antibiotic-free manure or soil controls. Antibiotics and heavy metals used as feed supplements were elevated in the manures, suggesting the potential for coselection of resistance traits. The potential for horizontal transfer of ARGs because of transposon-specific ARGs is implicated by the enrichment of transposases—the top six alleles being enriched 189-fold (median) up to 90,000-fold in manure—as well as the high correlation (r 2 = 0.96) between ARG and transposase abundance. In addition, abundance of ARGs correlated directly with antibiotic and metal concentrations, indicating their importance in selection of resistance genes. Diverse, abundant, and potentially mobile ARGs in farm samples suggest that nmonitored use of antibiotics and metals is causing the emergence and release of ARGs to the environment 

 

 

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