Global Survey of Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Air

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

230 Scopus Citations
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  • Jing Li
  • Junji Cao
  • Yong-Guan Zhu
  • Qing-Lin Chen
  • Fangxia Shen
  • Yan Wu
  • Siyu Xu
  • Hanqing Fan
  • Guillaume Da
  • Ru-Jin Huang
  • Jing Wang
  • Alma Lorelei De Jesus
  • Lidia Morawska
  • Jordan Peccia
  • Maosheng Yao

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10975-10984
Journal / PublicationEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number19
Online published25 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2018



Despite its emerging significant public health concern, the presence of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in urban air has not received significant attention. Here, we profiled relative abundances (as a fraction, normalized by 16S rRNA gene) of 30 ARG subtypes resistant to seven common classes of antibiotics, which are quinolones, β-lactams, macrolides, tetracyclines, sulfonamides, aminoglycosides, and vancomycins, in ambient total particulate matter (PM) using a novel protocol across 19 world cities. In addition, their longitudinal changes in PM2.5 samples in Xi'an, China as an example were also studied. Geographically, the ARGs were detected to vary by nearly 100-fold in their abundances, for example, from 0.07 (Bandung, Indonesia) to 5.6 (San Francisco, USA). The β-lactam resistance gene blaTEM was found to be most abundant, seconded by quinolone resistance gene qepA; and their corresponding relative abundances have increased by 178% and 26%, respectively, from 2004 to 2014 in Xi'an. Independent of cities, gene network analysis indicates that airborne ARGs were differentially contributed by bacterial taxa. Results here reveal that urban air is being polluted by ARGs, and different cities are challenged with varying health risks associated with airborne ARG exposure. This work highlights the threat of urban airborne transmission of ARGs and the need of redefining our current air quality standards in terms with public health.

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Global Survey of Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Air. / Li, Jing; Cao, Junji; Zhu, Yong-Guan et al.
In: Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 52, No. 19, 02.10.2018, p. 10975-10984.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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