The global distribution and environmental drivers of the soil antibiotic resistome

Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo*, Hang Wei Hu*, Fernando T. Maestre, Carlos A. Guerra, Nico Eisenhauer, David J. Eldridge, Yong Guan Zhu, Qing Lin Chen, Pankaj Trivedi, Shuai Du, Thulani P. Makhalanyane, Jay Prakash Verma, Beatriz Gozalo, Victoria Ochoa, Sergio Asensio, Ling Wang, Eli Zaady, Javier G. Illán, Christina Siebe, Tine GrebencXiaobing Zhou, Yu Rong Liu, Adebola R. Bamigboye, José L. Blanco-Pastor, Jorge Duran, Alexandra Rodríguez, Steven Mamet, Fernando Alfaro, Sebastian Abades, Alberto L. Teixido, Gabriel F. Peñaloza-Bojacá, Marco A. Molina-Montenegro, Cristian Torres-Díaz, Cecilia Perez, Antonio Gallardo, Laura García-Velázquez, Patrick E. Hayes, Sigrid Neuhauser, Ji Zheng He*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known about the global distribution and environmental drivers of key microbial functional traits such as antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). Soils are one of Earth’s largest reservoirs of ARGs, which are integral for soil microbial competition, and have potential implications for plant and human health. Yet, their diversity and global patterns remain poorly described. Here, we analyzed 285 ARGs in soils from 1012 sites across all continents and created the first global atlas with the distributions of topsoil ARGs. Results: We show that ARGs peaked in high latitude cold and boreal forests. Climatic seasonality and mobile genetic elements, associated with the transmission of antibiotic resistance, were also key drivers of their global distribution. Dominant ARGs were mainly related to multidrug resistance genes and efflux pump machineries. We further pinpointed the global hotspots of the diversity and proportions of soil ARGs. Conclusions: Together, our work provides the foundation for a better understanding of the ecology and global distribution of the environmental soil antibiotic resistome. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number219
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Global change
  • Global scale
  • Human health
  • Mobile genetic elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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