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Science of The Total Environment
Volume 820, 2022, 153286

Horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes within the bacterial communities in aquacultural environment

Songzhe Fua,1, Qingyao Wanga,b,1, Rui Wanga,b

College of Marine Science and Environment, Dalian Ocean University, Dalian, China.


Very little is known about how microbiome interactions shape the horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes in aquacultural environment. To this end, we first conducted 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing to monitor the dynamics of bacterial community compositions in one shrimp farm from 2019 to 2020. Next, co-occurrence analysis was then conducted to reveal the interactions network between Vibrio spp. and other species. Subsequently, 21 V. parahaemolyticus isolates and 15 related bacterial species were selected for whole-genome sequencing (WGS). The 16S rDNA amplicon sequencing results identified a remarkable increase of Vibrio and Providencia in September-2019 and a significant rise of Enterobacter and Shewanella in Septtember-2020. Co-occurrence analysis revealed that Vibrio spp. positively interacted with the above species, leading to the sequencing of their isolates to further understand the sharing of the resistant genomic islands (GIs). Subsequent pan-genomic analysis of V. parahaemolyticus genomes identified 278 horizontally transferred genes in 10 GIs, most of which were associated with antibiotic resistance, virulence, and fitness of metabolism. Most of the GIs have also been identified in Providencia, and Enterobacter, suggesting that exchange of genetic traits might occur in V. parahaemolyticus and other cooperative species in a specific niche. No genetic exchange was found between the species with negative relationships. The knowledge generated from this study would greatly improve our capacity to predict and mitigate the emergence of new resistant population and provide practical guidance on the microbial management during the aquacultural activities.

Keywords: Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Microevolution, Microbiome interactions, Co-occurrence patterns, Horizontal gene transfer.

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