Distribution of antibiotic resistance genes in soils and crops. A field study in legume plants (Vicia faba L.) grown under different watering regimes

Environ Res. 2019 Mar;170:16-25. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.12.007. Epub 2018 Dec 6.


Social concern has raised during the last years due to the development of antibiotic resistance hotspots in different environmental compartments, including the edible parts of crops. To assess the influence of the water quality used for watering, we collected samples from soil, roots, leaves and beans from the legume plant Vicia faba (broad beans) in three agricultural peri-urban plots (Barcelona, NE Spain), irrigated with either groundwater, river water, or reclaimed water. Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) sul1, tetM, qnrS1, blaCTX-M-32,blaOXA-58, mecA, and blaTEM were quantified by real-time PCR, along with 16S rDNA and intl1 sequences, as proxies for bacterial abundance and integron prevalence, respectively. Microbiome composition of all samples were analyzed by high-throughput DNA sequencing. Results show a gradient of bacterial species diversity and of ARG prevalence from highly diverse soil samples to microbially-poor beans and leaves, in which Rhizobiales essentially displaced all other groups, and that presented very small loads of ARGs and integron sequences. The data suggest that the microbiome and the associated resistome were likely influenced by agricultural practices and water quality, and that future irrigation water legal standards should consider the specific Physiology of the different crop plants.

Keywords: Antibiotic resistance genes; Endophytes; Irrigation water; Microbiomes; Rhizosphere; Soil.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics*
  • Fabaceae
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Soil / chemistry
  • Soil Microbiology*
  • Spain
  • Vicia faba*
  • Waste Water


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Soil
  • Waste Water