Using the class 1 integron-integrase gene as a proxy for anthropogenic pollution
Nature Publishing Group
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Around all human activity, there are zones of pollution with pesticides, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and the microorganisms associated with human waste streams and agriculture. This diversity of pollutants, whose concentration varies spatially and temporally, is a major challenge for monitoring. Here, we suggest that the relative abundance of the clinical class 1 integron-integrase gene, intI1, is a good proxy for pollution because: (1) intI1 is linked to genes conferring resistance to antibiotics, disinfectants and heavy metals; (2) it is found in a wide variety of pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacteria; (3) its abundance can change rapidly because its host cells can have rapid generation times and it can move between bacteria by horizontal gene transfer; and (4) a single DNA sequence variant of intI1 is now found on a wide diversity of xenogenetic elements, these being complex mosaic DNA elements fixed through the agency of human selection. Here we review the literature examining the relationship between anthropogenic impacts and the abundance of intI1, and outline an approach by which intI1 could serve as a proxy for anthropogenic pollution.
MRG is supported by the Australian Research Council, AP is supported by the Alfred P Sloan Foundation Microbiology of the Built Environment program and the National Science Foundation RAPID award no. 1402651, KS is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) funding the Research Unit FOR 566 ‘Veterinary Medicines in Soil: Basic Research for Risk Analysis’ (Grant No. SM59/5-3) and by the Umweltbundesamt (3713 63 402), JMT is supported by the US National Science Foundation and Y-GZ is supported by the National Science Foundation of China.
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Vol. 9, pp. 1269 - 1279
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