Cyanobacterial blooms contribute to the diversity of antibiotic-resistance genes in aquatic ecosystems

Qi Zhang, Zhenyan Zhang, Tao Lu, W. J. G. M. Peijnenburg, Michael Gillings, Xiaoru Yang, Jianmeng Chen, Josep Penuelas, Yong Guan Zhu, Ning Yi Zhou, Jianqiang Su, Haifeng Qian*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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    Cyanobacterial blooms are a global ecological problem that directly threatens human health and crop safety. Cyanobacteria have toxic effects on aquatic microorganisms, which could drive the selection for resistance genes. The effect of cyanobacterial blooms on the dispersal and abundance of antibiotic-resistance genes (ARGs) of concern to human health remains poorly known. We herein investigated the effect of cyanobacterial blooms on ARG composition in Lake Taihu, China. The numbers and relative abundances of total ARGs increased obviously during a Planktothrix bloom. More pathogenic microorganisms were present during this bloom than during a Planktothrix bloom or during the non-bloom period. Microcosmic experiments using additional aquatic ecosystems (an urban river and Lake West) found that a coculture of Microcystis aeruginosa and Planktothrix agardhii increased the richness of the bacterial community, because its phycosphere provided a richer microniche for bacterial colonization and growth. Antibiotic-resistance bacteria were naturally in a rich position, successfully increasing the momentum for the emergence and spread of ARGs. These results demonstrate that cyanobacterial blooms are a crucial driver of ARG diffusion and enrichment in freshwater, thus providing a reference for the ecology and evolution of ARGs and ARBs and for better assessing and managing water quality.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number737
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    Journal Communications Biology
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2020

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    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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