The global distribution and environmental drivers of the soil antibiotic resistome
Background: Little is known about the global distribution and environmental drivers of key microbial functional traits such as antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). Soils are one of Earth's largest reservoirs of ARGs, which are integral for soil microbial competition, and have potential implications for plant and human health. Yet, their diversity and global patterns remain poorly described. Here, we analyzed 285 ARGs in soils from 1012 sites across all continents and created the first global atlas with the distributions of topsoil ARGs. Results: We show that ARGs peaked in high latitude cold and boreal forests. Climatic seasonality and mobile genetic elements, associated with the transmission of antibiotic resistance, were also key drivers of their global distribution. Dominant ARGs were mainly related to multidrug resistance genes and efflux pump machineries. We further pinpointed the global hotspots of the diversity and proportions of soil ARGs. Conclusions: Together, our work provides the foundation for a better understanding of the ecology and global distribution of the environmental soil antibiotic resistome.
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