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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 20, 2020

Development, spread and persistence of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in the soil microbiomes through co-selection

  • Anand Prakash Maurya , Jina Rajkumari , Amitabha Bhattacharjee and Piyush Pandey EMAIL logo


Bacterial pathogens resistant to multiple antibiotics are emergent threat to the public health which may evolve in the environment due to the co-selection of antibiotic resistance, driven by poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and/or heavy metal contaminations. The co-selection of antibiotic resistance (AMR) evolves through the co-resistance or cross-resistance, or co-regulatory mechanisms, present in bacteria. The persistent toxic contaminants impose widespread pressure in both clinical and environmental setting, and may potentially cause the maintenance and spread of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). In the past few years, due to exponential increase of AMR, numerous drugs are now no longer effective to treat infectious diseases, especially in cases of bacterial infections. In this mini-review, we have described the role of co-resistance and cross-resistance as main sources for co-selection of ARGs; while other co-regulatory mechanisms are also involved with cross-resistance that regulates multiple ARGs. However, co-factors also support selections, which results in development and evolution of ARGs in absence of antibiotic pressure. Efflux pumps present on the same mobile genetic elements, possibly due to the function of Class 1 integrons (Int1), may increase the presence of ARGs into the environment, which further is promptly changed as per environmental conditions. This review also signifies that mutation plays important role in the expansion of ARGs due to presence of diverse types of anthropogenic pollutants, which results in overexpression of efflux pump with higher bacterial fitness cost; and these situations result in acquisition of resistant genes. The future aspects of co-selection with involvement of systems biology, synthetic biology and gene network approaches have also been discussed.

Corresponding author: Dr. Piyush Pandey, Professor and Head, Department of Microbiology, Assam University, Silchar, 788011, Assam, India, E-mail:

  1. Research funding: Authors acknowledge the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India for financial support.

  2. Author contributions: APM, JR and PP: manuscript writing and compilation; PP and AB: Manuscript checking and comments. PP: Overall conceptualization, supervision and finalizing the manuscript.

  3. Competing interests: Authors declare no conflict of interest.

  4. Informed consent: Not applicable.

  5. Ethical approval: Not applicable.


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Received: 2020-03-29
Accepted: 2020-06-13
Published Online: 2020-07-20
Published in Print: 2020-11-18

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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