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Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01916

Bacterial Heavy-Metal and Antibiotic Resistance Genes in a Copper Tailing Dam Area in Northern China

 JIanwen Chen1,  Junjian Li1, Hong Zhang2, Wei Shi1 and  Yong Liu1*
  • 1Institute of Loess Plateau, Shanxi University, China
  • 2College of Environmental Science and Resources, Shanxi University, China

Heavy metal resistance genes (MRGs) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in bacteria can respond to the inducement of heavy metals. However, the co-occurrence of MRGs and ARGs in the long-term heavy metal contaminated area is still poorly understood. Here, we investigated the relationship between the abundance of soil bacteria MRGs, ARGs and heavy metal pollution in a copper tailing dam area of northern China. We found that arsC and ereA genes coding for resistance mechanisms to arsenic and to macrolides, respectively, are the most abundant MRG and ARG in the study area. The abundance of MRGs is positively correlated with cadmium (Cd) concentration, and this indicates the importance of Cd in the selection of MRGs. The network analysis results show that sulⅡ and MRGs co-occur and copB occur with ARGs, which suggests that MRGs and ARGs can be co-selected in the soil contaminated by heavy metal. The network analysis also reveals the co-occurrence of Cd and MRGs, and thus heavy metal with a high ‘toxic-response’ factor can be used as the indicator of MRGs. This study improves the understanding of the relationship between bacterial resistance and multi-metal contamination, and underlies the exploration of the adaptive mechanism of microbes in the multi-metal contaminated environment.

Keywords: Metal resistance genes, antibiotic resistance genes, mobile genetic element, Co-Occurrence, metal pollution, risk index, copper tailing

Received: 13 Jan 2019; Accepted: 05 Aug 2019.

Edited by:

Ziad Daoud, University of Balamand, Lebanon

Reviewed by:

Peter Pristas, Institute of Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Science, Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice, Slovakia
Mariusz Cycoń, Medical University of Silesia, Poland
Lucia Cavalca, University of Milan, Italy  

Copyright: © 2019 Chen, Li, Zhang, Shi and Liu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Yong Liu, Institute of Loess Plateau, Shanxi University, Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, China,