Native California soils are selective reservoirs for multidrug-resistant bacteria

Amanda C. Hollowell, Kelsey A. Gano, Gabriel Lopez, Kareem Shahin, John U. Regus, Nathaniel Gleason, Stefanie Graeter, Victor Pahua, Joel L. Sachs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Soil bacteria can exhibit extensive antibiotic resistomes and act as reservoirs of important antibiotic resistance traits. However, the geographic sources and evolutionary drivers of resistance traits are poorly understood in these natural settings. We investigated the prevalence, spatial structure and evolutionary drivers of multidrug resistance in natural populations of Bradyrhizobium, a cosmopolitan bacterial lineage that thrives in soil and aquatic systems as well as in plant and human hosts. We genotyped >400 isolates from plant roots and soils across California and assayed 98 of them for resistance traits against 17 clinically relevant antibiotics. We investigated the geographic and phylogenetic structure of resistance traits, and analysed correlations of resistance with strain abundance, host infection capacity and in vitro fitness. We found: (i) multidrug resistance at all sites, (ii) subsets of resistance traits that are spatially structured and (iii) significant associations between resistance traits and increased strain abundance or host infection capacity. Our results highlight multiple selective factors that can result in the spread of resistance traits in native Bradyrhizobium populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-449
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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