The bacterial mobile resistome transfer network connecting the animal and human microbiomes

Yongfei Hu, Xi Yang, Jing Li, Na Lv, Fei Liu, Jun Wu, Ivan Y C Lin, Na Wu, Bart C Weimer, George F. Gao, Yulan Liu, Baoli Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Horizontally acquired antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in bacteria are highly mobile and have been ranked as principal risk resistance determinants. However, the transfer network of the mobile resistome and the forces driving mobile ARG transfer are largely unknown. Here, we present the whole profile of the mobile resistome in 23,425 bacterial genomes and explore the effects of phylogeny and ecology on the recent transfer (≥99% nucleotide identity) of mobile ARGs. We found that mobile ARGs are mainly present in four bacterial phyla and are significantly enriched in Proteobacteria. The recent mobile ARG transfer network, which comprises 703 bacterial species and 16,859 species pairs, is shaped by the bacterial phylogeny, while an ecological barrier also exists, especially when interrogating bacteria colonizing different human body sites. Phylogeny is still a driving force for the transfer of mobile ARGs between farm animals and the human gut, and, interestingly, the mobile ARGs that are shared between the human and animal gut microbiomes are also harbored by diverse human pathogens. Taking these results together, we suggest that phylogeny and ecology are complementary in shaping the bacterial mobile resistome and exert synergistic effects on the development of antibiotic resistance in human pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6672-6681
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number22
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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