Unravelling native plant resistomes–The Sphagnum microbiome harbours versatile and novel antimicrobial resistance genes

Melanie Maria Obermeier, Julian Taffner, Alessandro Bergna, Anja Poehlein, Tomislav Cernava, Christina Andrea Müller, Gabriele Berg

Research output: Working paperPreprint


The expanding antibiotic resistance crisis calls for a more in depth understanding of the importance of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) in pristine environments. We, therefore, studied the microbiota associated with Sphagnum forming the main vegetation in undomesticated, evolutionary old bog ecosystems. In our complementary analysis of a culture collection, metagenomic data and a fosmid library, we identified a low abundant but highly diverse pool of resistance determinants, which targets an unexpected broad range of antibiotics including natural and synthetic compounds. This derives both, from the extraordinarily high abundance of efflux pumps (80%), and the unexpectedly versatile set of ARGs underlying all major resistance mechanisms. The overall target spectrum of detected resistance determinants spans 21 antibiotic classes, whereby β-lactamases and vancomycin resistance appeared as the predominant resistances in all screenings. Multi-resistance was frequently observed among bacterial isolates, e.g. in Serratia, Pandorea, Paraburkhotderia and Rouxiella. In a search for novel ARGs we identified the new class A β-lactamase Mm3. The native Sphagnum resistome comprising a highly diversified and partially novel set of ARGs contributes to the bog ecosystem’s plasticity. Our results shed light onto the antibiotic resistance background of non-agricultural plants and highlight the ecological link between natural and clinically relevant resistomes
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2019

Publication series

NamebioRxiv - the Preprint Server for Biology
PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press

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