The expanding antibiotic resistance crisis calls for a more in depth understanding of the importance of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) in pristine environments. We, therefore, studied the microbiome associated with Sphagnum moss forming the main vegetation in undomesticated, evolutionary old bog ecosystems. In our complementary analysis of culture collections, metagenomic data and a fosmid library from different geographic sites in Europe, we identified a low abundant but highly diverse pool of resistance determinants, which targets an unexpectedly broad range of 29 antibiotics including natural and synthetic compounds. This derives both, from the extraordinarily high abundance of efflux pumps (up to 96%), and the unexpectedly versatile set of ARGs underlying all major resistance mechanisms. Multi-resistance was frequently observed among bacterial isolates, e.g. in Serratia, Rouxiella, Pandoraea, Paraburkholderia and Pseudomonas. In a search for novel ARGs, we identified the new class A β-lactamase Mm3. The native Sphagnum resistome comprising a highly diversified and partially novel set of ARGs contributes to the bog ecosystem´s plasticity. Our results reinforce the ecological link between natural and clinically relevant resistomes and thereby shed light onto this link from the aspect of pristine plants. Moreover, they underline that diverse resistomes are an intrinsic characteristic of plant-associated microbial communities, they naturally harbour many resistances including genes with potential clinical relevance.
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics