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Antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in river water downstream of wastewater treatment plants

G. C. A. Amos, L. Zhang, P. M. Hawkey, W. H. Gaze, E. M. Wellington

ANTIBIOTIC resistance poses a major threat to human and animal populations. Wastewater treatment plants have been found to be hot spots for the transfer of resistant genes between bacteria as urban, industrial, clinical and agricultural waste meet and mix. The ejection of wastewater treatment plant effluents into the environment may therefore increase the number of resistant genes found in bacteria. This study aimed to investigate how wastewater effluent affected the diversity and abundance of antimicrobial resistant genes in a river in the UK using metagenomic analysis.

Sediment samples were taken from 300 m, 600 m and 900 m upstream and downstream of a wastewater treatment plant on a river in the Midlands region of the UK. DNA was extracted from the samples and analysed. The number of bacteria in each of the samples was also calculated.

In total, in the upstream samples, approximately 1826 bacterial genomes were detected, while in the downstream samples around 2043 were detected. Upstream samples were found to contain 6.78 x 107 bacteria and downstream samples were found to …

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