A case study on the distribution of the environmental resistome in Korean shrimp farms

Hoon Je Seong, Jin Ju Kim, Taeyune Kim, Sung Jae Ahn, Mina Rho, Woo Jun Sul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hundreds of tons of antibiotics are widely used in aquaculture to prevent microbial infections and promote fish growth. However, the overuse of antibiotics and chemical products can lead to the selection and spreading of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) and antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs), which are of great concern considering the threat to public health worldwide. Here, in-depth metagenome sequencing was performed to explore the environmental resistome and ARB distribution across farming stages in shrimp farms and examine anthropogenic effects in nearby coastal waters. A genome-centric analysis using a metagenome binning approach allowed us to accurately investigate the distribution of pathogens and ARG hosts in shrimp farms. The diversity of resistomes was higher in shrimp farms than in coastal waters, and the distribution of resistomes was dependent on the farming stage. In particular, the tetracycline resistance gene was found mainly at the early post-larval stage regardless of the farm. The metagenome-assembled genomes of Vibrio spp. were dominant at this stage and harbored tet34, which is known to confer resistance to oxytetracycline. In addition, opportunistic pathogens such as Francisella, Mycoplasma, Photobacterium, and Vibrio were found in abundance in shrimp farms, which had multiple virulence factors. This study highlights the increased resistance diversity and environmental selection of pathogens in shrimp farms. The use of environmental pollutants on farms may cause an increase in resistome diversity/abundance and the transmission of pathogens to the surrounding environment, which may pose future risks to public health and aquatic organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112858
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
StatePublished - 2021 Dec 20


  • Antibiotic-resistant bacteria
  • Metagenome-assembled genome
  • Resistome
  • Shrimp


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