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Browsing by Subject "microbial ecology"

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  • Pezzutto, Denise (2019)
    Antimicrobial resistance is an emerging concern at the global scale, threatening the effectiveness of antibiotics in treating bacterial infections. Among anthropogenically impacted environments, wastewater treatment plants have been indicated as possible reservoirs of antibiotic resistance genes, putative hotspots for their horizontal gene transfer, and a source of their dissemination to the environment. Generally, the abundance of antibiotic resistance genes is reduced during the wastewater treatment process. However, some genes were shown to be enriched in purified effluent water and dried sludge, which are then released to the environment, compared to influent water. Also, the taxonomy of the hosts carrying antibiotic resistance genes could change as a result of horizontal gene transfer events. The aim of this study was to analyse and compare the host range of a series of antibiotic resistance genes in influent water, effluent water and dried sludge collected from the Viikinmäki wastewater treatment plant in Helsinki, Finland, by applying Emulsion, Paired Isolation and Concatenation PCR (epicPCR). EpicPCR is a method that can link a gene of interest to the 16S rRNA gene from the genome of the host bacterium, without any cultivation step. The abundance of the hosts was also evaluated by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene from the whole bacterial community. In several cases, the target antibiotic resistance genes (blaIMP, blaNDM, ermB, ermF, sul1 and strB) were carried in effluent water and dried sludge by taxa that were not hosting them in influent water, suggesting that horizontal gene transfer events might have occurred during the treatment. All the examined genes were detected both in abundant and in rare taxa, including genera that also comprise pathogenic species, such as Arcobacter and Acinetobacter. Some of the detected hosts were not previously known to show resistant phenotypes, namely members of the family Methylophilaceae. These results corroborate the idea that wastewater treatment plants might be hotspots for the horizontal gene transfer of resistance determinants, and potentially disseminate antibiotic resistant pathogens to the environment. However, in order to ensure the accuracy of the results, the limits of epicPCR as a method need to be identified and addressed.