Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) are increasingly appreciated to be important as micropollutants. Indirectly produced by human activities, they are released into the environment, as they are untargeted by conventional wastewater treatments. In order to understand the fate of ARGs and of other resistant forms (e.g., phenotypical adaptations) in urban wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), we monitored three WWTPs with different disinfection processes (chlorine, peracetic acid (PAA), and ultraviolet light (UV)). We monitored WWTPs influx and pre- and postdisinfection effluent over 24 h, followed by incubation experiments lasting for 96 h. We measured bacterial abundance, size distribution and aggregational behavior, the proportion of intact (active) cells, and the abundances of four ARGs and of the mobile element integron1. While all the predisinfection treatments of all WWTPs removed the majority of bacteria and of associated ARGs, of the disinfection processes only PAA efficiently removed bacterial cells. However, the stress imposed by PAA selected for bacterial aggregates and, similarly to chlorine, stimulated the selection of ARGs during the incubation experiment. This suggests disinfections based on chemically aggressive destruction of bacterial cell structures can promote a residual microbial community that is more resistant to antibiotics and, given the altered aggregational behavior, to competitive stress in nature.

Fitness and Recovery of Bacterial Communities and Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Urban Wastewaters Exposed to Classical Disinfection Treatments

DI CESARE, ANDREA;
2016-01-01

Abstract

Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) are increasingly appreciated to be important as micropollutants. Indirectly produced by human activities, they are released into the environment, as they are untargeted by conventional wastewater treatments. In order to understand the fate of ARGs and of other resistant forms (e.g., phenotypical adaptations) in urban wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), we monitored three WWTPs with different disinfection processes (chlorine, peracetic acid (PAA), and ultraviolet light (UV)). We monitored WWTPs influx and pre- and postdisinfection effluent over 24 h, followed by incubation experiments lasting for 96 h. We measured bacterial abundance, size distribution and aggregational behavior, the proportion of intact (active) cells, and the abundances of four ARGs and of the mobile element integron1. While all the predisinfection treatments of all WWTPs removed the majority of bacteria and of associated ARGs, of the disinfection processes only PAA efficiently removed bacterial cells. However, the stress imposed by PAA selected for bacterial aggregates and, similarly to chlorine, stimulated the selection of ARGs during the incubation experiment. This suggests disinfections based on chemically aggressive destruction of bacterial cell structures can promote a residual microbial community that is more resistant to antibiotics and, given the altered aggregational behavior, to competitive stress in nature.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/875881
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