Streptomycin use in apple orchards did not increase abundance of mobile resistance genes

Authors

  • Brion Duffy,

    1. Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER, Research Station Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil ACW, Wädenswil, Switzerland
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  • Eduard Holliger,

    1. Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER, Research Station Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil ACW, Wädenswil, Switzerland
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  • Fiona Walsh

    Corresponding author
    1. Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER, Research Station Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil ACW, Wädenswil, Switzerland
    • Correspondence: Fiona Walsh, Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER, Research Station Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil ACW, Wädenswil, Switzerland. Tel.: +41 44 783 6329; fax: +41 44 783 6416; e-mail: fiona.walsh@agroscope.admin.ch

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Abstract

Streptomycin is used as a first-line defense and tetracycline as a second-line defense, in the fight against fire blight disease in apple and pear orchards. We have performed the first study to quantitatively analyze the influence of streptomycin use in agriculture on the abundance of streptomycin and tetracycline resistance genes in apple orchards. Flowers, leaves, and soil were collected from three orchard sites in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Gene abundance distribution was analyzed using two-way anova and principal component analysis to investigate relationships between gene abundance data over time and treatment. The mobile antibiotic resistance genes, strA, strB, tetB, tetM, tetW, and the insertion sequence IS1133, were detected prior to streptomycin treatment in almost all samples, indicating the natural presence of these resistance genes in nature. Statistically significant increases in the resistance gene abundances were occasional, inconsistent, and not reproducible from one year to the next. We conclude that the application of streptomycin in these orchards was not associated with sustained increases in streptomycin or tetracycline resistance gene abundances.

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