MetaCherchant: analyzing genomic context of antibiotic resistance genes in gut microbiota

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Antibiotic resistance is an important global public health problem. Human gut microbiota is an accumulator of resistance genes potentially providing them to pathogens. It is important to develop tools for identifying the mechanisms of how resistance is transmitted between gut microbial species and pathogens.


We developed MetaCherchant—an algorithm for extracting the genomic environment of antibiotic resistance genes from metagenomic data in the form of a graph. The algorithm was validated on a number of simulated and published datasets, as well as applied to new ‘shotgun' metagenomes of gut microbiota from patients with Helicobacter pylori who underwent antibiotic therapy. Genomic context was reconstructed for several major resistance genes. Taxonomic annotation of the context suggests that within a single metagenome, the resistance genes can be contained in genomes of multiple species. MetaCherchant allows reconstruction of mobile elements with resistance genes within the genomes of bacteria using metagenomic data. Application of MetaCherchant in differential mode produced specific graph structures suggesting the evidence of possible resistance gene transmission within a mobile element that occurred as a result of the antibiotic therapy. MetaCherchant is a promising tool giving researchers an opportunity to get an insight into dynamics of resistance transmission in vivo basing on metagenomic data.

Availability and implementation

Source code and binaries are freely available for download at The code is written in Java and is platform-independent.

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