Evaluation of antibiotic resistance dissemination by wastewater treatment plant effluents with different catchment areas in Germany

  • chair:

    Alexander, J. / Hembach, N, / Schwartz, T. (2020)

  • place:

    Scientific Reports, 2020, 10, Article number: 8952

  • Date: Juni 2020


The study quantified the abundances of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and facultative pathogenic bacteria (FPB) as well as one mobile genetic element in genomic DNA via qPCR from 23 different wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents in Germany. 12 clinically relevant ARGs were categorized into frequently, intermediately, and rarely occurring genetic parameters of communal wastewaters. Taxonomic PCR quantifications of five FPB targeting Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, and enterococci were performed. The WWTPs differed in their catchment areas being impacted by hospitals, food processing companies, or housing areas only. The total discharges of the analyzed ARGs and FPB were found to cluster independently of the sizes of the WWTPs with a maximum difference of two log units within one cluster. Initially, quantitative data evaluations revealed no significant difference between ARG categories and WWTP catchment areas. More distinct correlations became obvious with a Pearson correlation approach, where each single taxonomic marker is compared to each ARG target. Here, increased correlation of FPB (i.e. E. coli, K. pneumoniae, P. aeruginosa, and enterococci) with clinically relevant ARGs of the category of rarely occurring resistance genes (blaNDM-1, vanA) was found in WWTP effluents being influenced by hospital wastewaters.