Integrons are genetic elements that contain a site-specific recombination system able to capture, express and exchange gene cassettes. Mobile integrons are widespread and often confer resistance to multiple antibiotics, due to the expression of the arrays of gene cassettes they carry. Although >300 cassette arrays have been described, < 10 array compositions prevail in the reports related to class 1 integrons. These common arrays are found in a broad variety of hosts and environments, highlighting the high level of horizontal dissemination of these elements amongst bacterial populations and species. Clonal expansion also contributes to the current prevalence and inter-regional spread of integron-carrying bacterial species. Here, we review the dissemination pattern of common cassette arrays with a focus on the bacterial species, the geographical dispersal pattern and the environments in which they reside. Conserved arrays of gene cassettes are found in at least 74 countries and 72 species present in different environments. The factors governing the further spread and population dynamics of these cassette arrays remain to be determined.


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