CO2 promotes the conjugative transfer of multiresistance genes by facilitating cellular contact and plasmid transfer.


State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tongji University, 1239 Siping Road, Shanghai 200092, China. Electronic address: [Email]


The dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), especially via the plasmid-mediated conjugation, is becoming a pervasive global health threat. This study reported that this issue can be worse by CO2, as increased CO2 was found to facilitate the conjugative transfer of ARGs carried on plasmid RP4 by 2.4-9.0 and 1.3-3.8 fold within and across genera, respectively. Mechanistic studies revealed that CO2 benefitted the cell-to-cell contact by increasing cell surface hydrophobicity and decreasing cell surface charge, both of which resulted in the reduced intercellular repulsion. Besides, the transcriptional expression of genes responsible for global regulator (korA, korB and trbA), plasmid transfer and replication system (trfAp), and mating pair formation system (traF and traG) were all influenced by CO2, facilitating the mobilization and channel transfer of plasmid. Furthermore, the presence of CO2 induced the release of intracellular Ca2+ and increased the transmembrane potential of recipients, which contributed to the increased proton motive force (PMF), providing more power for DNA uptake. This is the first study addressing the potential risks of increased CO2 on the propagation of ARGs, which provides a new insight into the concerns of anthropogenic CO2 emissions and CO2 storage.


Antibiotic resistance genes,CO(2),Conjugative transfer,Intercellular contact,Oxidative stress response,Proton motive force,