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Open AccessArticle

Characterization of Environmental and Cultivable Antibiotic-Resistant Microbial Communities Associated with Wastewater Treatment

1
Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA
2
Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA
3
Department of Geography & Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Luciana Migliore and Marco Maria D’Andrea
Antibiotics 2021, 10(4), 352; https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics10040352
Received: 2 March 2021 / Revised: 19 March 2021 / Accepted: 22 March 2021 / Published: 26 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance in Aquatic Environments)
Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a growing global concern, threatening human and environmental health, particularly among urban populations. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are thought to be “hotspots” for antibiotic resistance dissemination. The conditions of WWTPs, in conjunction with the persistence of commonly used antibiotics, may favor the selection and transfer of resistance genes among bacterial populations. WWTPs provide an important ecological niche to examine the spread of antibiotic resistance. We used heterotrophic plate count methods to identify phenotypically resistant cultivable portions of these bacterial communities and characterized the composition of the culturable subset of these populations. Resistant taxa were more abundant in raw sewage and wastewater before the biological aeration treatment stage. While some antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) were detectable downstream of treated wastewater release, these organisms are not enriched relative to effluent-free upstream water, indicating efficient removal during treatment. Combined culture-dependent and -independent analyses revealed a stark difference in community composition between culturable fractions and the environmental source material, irrespective of culturing conditions. Higher proportions of the environmental populations were recovered than predicted by the widely accepted 1% culturability paradigm. These results represent baseline abundance and compositional data for ARB communities for reference in future studies addressing the dissemination of antibiotic resistance associated with urban wastewater treatment ecosystems. View Full-Text
Keywords: culturability; antibiotic resistance; wastewater treatment culturability; antibiotic resistance; wastewater treatment
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sorgen, A.; Johnson, J.; Lambirth, K.; Clinton, S.M.; Redmond, M.; Fodor, A.; Gibas, C. Characterization of Environmental and Cultivable Antibiotic-Resistant Microbial Communities Associated with Wastewater Treatment. Antibiotics 2021, 10, 352. https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics10040352

AMA Style

Sorgen A, Johnson J, Lambirth K, Clinton SM, Redmond M, Fodor A, Gibas C. Characterization of Environmental and Cultivable Antibiotic-Resistant Microbial Communities Associated with Wastewater Treatment. Antibiotics. 2021; 10(4):352. https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics10040352

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sorgen, Alicia; Johnson, James; Lambirth, Kevin; Clinton, Sandra M.; Redmond, Molly; Fodor, Anthony; Gibas, Cynthia. 2021. "Characterization of Environmental and Cultivable Antibiotic-Resistant Microbial Communities Associated with Wastewater Treatment" Antibiotics 10, no. 4: 352. https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics10040352

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