Study Links Antibiotic Resistance Genes to Wastewater Treatment Facility
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have identified a municipal wastewater treatment plant as a source of antibiotic resistance genes found in the Duluth-Superior Harbor.
Although the plant boasts an advanced treatment step that removes large quantities of bacteria, the researchers typically found quantities of three different genes encoding resistance to tetracycline to be 20 times higher in its wastewater than in nearby surface water. (For comparison, samples taken from the St. Louis River and Lake Superior typically demonstrated quantities below detection.) This discovery confirms the notion that municipal wastewater is on par with agricultural waste as a reservoir of resistant bacteria.
Although the methods by which resistance genes move through the environment are not fully understood, they are generally recognized as emerging environmental contaminants that could theoretically spread to other types of bacteria in the environment, potentially contributing to antimicrobial resistance on a much larger scale.
Published November 29, 2011