Capturing the Resistome: a Targeted Capture Method To Reveal Antibiotic Resistance Determinants in Metagenomes

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2019 Dec 20;64(1):e01324-19. doi: 10.1128/AAC.01324-19. Print 2019 Dec 20.


Identification of the nucleotide sequences encoding antibiotic resistance elements and determination of their association with antibiotic resistance are critical to improve surveillance and monitor trends in antibiotic resistance. Current methods to study antibiotic resistance in various environments rely on extensive deep sequencing or laborious culturing of fastidious organisms, both of which are heavily time-consuming operations. An accurate and sensitive method to identify both rare and common resistance elements in complex metagenomic samples is needed. Referencing the sequences in the Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database, we designed a set of 37,826 probes to specifically target over 2,000 nucleotide sequences associated with antibiotic resistance in clinically relevant bacteria. Testing of this probe set on DNA libraries generated from multidrug-resistant bacteria to selectively capture resistance genes reproducibly produced higher numbers of reads on target at a greater length of coverage than shotgun sequencing. We also identified additional resistance gene sequences from human gut microbiome samples that sequencing alone was not able to detect. Our method to capture the resistome enables a sensitive means of gene detection in diverse environments where genes encoding antibiotic resistance represent less than 0.1% of the metagenome.

Keywords: antibiotic resistance; resistome; sequencing; targeted capture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • DNA Probes / genetics
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / genetics
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Metagenome*
  • Metagenomics / methods
  • Microbiota / drug effects
  • Microbiota / genetics
  • Whole Genome Sequencing


  • DNA Probes