Evaluation of metagenomic assembly methods for the detection and characterization of antimicrobial resistance determinants and associated mobilizable elements

Elsevier, Journal of Microbiological Methods, Volume 213, October 2023
Lee C., Polo R.O., Zaheer R., Van Domselaar G., Zovoilis A., McAllister T.A.

Antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) can be transferred between members of a bacterial population by mobile genetic elements (MGE). Understanding the risk of these transfer events is important in monitoring and predicting antimicrobial resistance (AMR), especially in the context of a One Health Continuum. However, there is no universally accepted method for detection of ARGs and MGEs, and especially for determining their linkages. This study used publicly available shotgun metagenomic DNA short-read (Illumina, 100 bp paired-end) sequence data from samples across the One Health Continuum (including beef cattle composite feces from feedlots, catch basin water at feedlots, agricultural soil from feedlot manured surrounding fields, and urban/municipal sewage influent from two municipal wastewater treatment plants) to develop a workflow to identify and associate ARGs and MGEs. ARG- and MGE-based targeted-assemblies with available short-read data were unable to meet this analysis goal. In contrast, de novo assembly of contigs provided enough sequence context to associate ARGs and MGEs, without compromising discovery rate. However, to estimate the relative abundance of these elements, unassembled sequence data must still be used.