antibiotic resistance, integrons, wastewater
Combatting antibiotic resistance is critical to our ability to treat infectious diseases. Here, we identified and characterized diverse antimicrobial resistance genes, including potentially mobile elements, from synthetic wastewater treatment microcosms exposed to the antibacterial agent triclosan. After seven weeks of exposure, the microcosms were subjected to functional metagenomic selection across 13 antimicrobials. This was achieved by cloning the combined genetic material from the microcosms, introducing this genetic library into E. coli, and selecting for clones that grew on media supplemented with one of the 13 antimicrobials. We recovered resistant clones capable of growth on media supplemented with a single antimicrobial, yielding 13 clones conferring resistance to at least one antimicrobial agent. Antibiotic susceptibility analysis revealed resistance ranging from 4 to >50 fold more resistant, while one clone showed resistance to multiple antibiotics. Using both Sanger and SMRT sequencing, we identified the predicted active gene(s) on each clone. One clone that conferred resistance to tetracycline contained a gene encoding a novel tetA-type efflux pump that was named TetA(62). Three clones contained predicted active genes on class 1 integrons. One integron had a previously unreported genetic arrangement and was named In1875. This study demonstrated the diversity and potential for spread of resistance genes present in human-impacted environments.
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