Antibiotic resistome profile based on metagenomics in raw surface drinking water source and the influence of environmental factor: A case study in Huaihe River Basin, China

Environ Pollut. 2019 May:248:438-447. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.02.057. Epub 2019 Feb 23.


The contamination with antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in raw drinking water source may pose a direct threat to human health. In this study, metagenomics sequencing and analysis were applied to investigate the ARG pattern in 12 drinking water sources in upper and middle reach of Huaihe River Basin, China. Based on the redundant analysis and multi-linear regression model, location, specific microbial taxa, number of livestock and health facilities significantly influenced the ARG profile in drinking water sources. Besides the cluster effect of ARG in samples from plain and bedrock mountain areas, the samples from fracture aquifer areas also showed a distinctive biogeographic pattern with that from porous aquifer areas. Putative ARGs host Opitutus and Flavobacterium were the enriched biomarkers in plain and fracture aquifer area respectively, which mainly carried bacitracin, multidrug, beta-lactam and tetracycline ARGs. This result illuminated that both natural background and anthropogenic activities in the watershed influenced the ARG profile in natural freshwater system significantly. The low MGEs abundance and absence of pathogen revealed a low ARG dissemination risk in sampled drinking water sources, while Polynucleobacter was an abundant ARGs host and was significantly related to the ARG profile, which indicated that specific bacteria was responsible for ARGs propagation and accumulation in surface freshwater system. Further researches are needed to assess human exposure to raw drinking water source and the potential risk, as well as the species interaction in microbial community and its impact on ARG propagation under oligotrophic condition.

Keywords: Antibiotic resistance genes; Biogeographic pattern; Drinking water sources; Metagenomics technique.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacitracin / pharmacology
  • Burkholderiaceae / drug effects
  • Burkholderiaceae / genetics*
  • China
  • Drinking Water / microbiology*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics*
  • Flavobacterium / drug effects
  • Flavobacterium / genetics*
  • Genes, Bacterial / genetics
  • Humans
  • Metagenomics
  • Microbiota / drug effects
  • Rivers / microbiology*
  • Tetracyclines / pharmacology
  • Verrucomicrobia / drug effects
  • Verrucomicrobia / genetics*
  • beta-Lactams / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Drinking Water
  • Tetracyclines
  • beta-Lactams
  • Bacitracin