Relationship between antibiotic resistance genes and metals in residential soil samples from Western Australia
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Ecosystem Management
Increasing drug-resistant infections have drawn research interest towards examining environmental bacteria and the discovery that many factors, including elevated metal conditions, contribute to proliferation of antibiotic resistance (AR). This study examined 90 garden soils from Western Australia to evaluate predictions of antibiotic resistance genes from total metal conditions by comparing the concentrations of 12 metals and 13 genes related to tetracycline, beta-lactam and sulphonamide resistance. Relationships existed between metals and genes, but trends varied. All metals, except Se and Co, were related to at least one AR gene in terms of absolute gene numbers, but only Al, Mn and Pb were associated with a higher percentage of soil bacteria exhibiting resistance, which is a possible indicator of population selection. Correlations improved when multiple factors were considered simultaneously in a multiple linear regression model, suggesting the possibility of additive effects occurring. Soil-metal concentrations must be considered when determining risks of AR in the environment and the proliferation of resistance.