Small-scale wastewater treatment plants as a source of the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes in the aquatic environment.J Hazard Mater. 2020 01 05; 381:121221.JH
Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are significant source of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), which can spread further in the environment by reaching rivers together with effluents discharged from WWTPs. In this study untreated and treated wastewater (UWW, TWW), upstream and downstream river water (URW, DRW) were collected from 4 WWTPs, in the winter and autumn seasons. The occurrence of ARB resistant to beta-lactams and tetracyclines as well as the presence of antibiotics from these classes were analysed in water and wastewater samples. Additionally, the amounts of 12 ARGs, 2 genes of mobile genetic elements (MGEs), gene uidA identifying E. coli and 16S rRNA were also determined. Resistance to beta-lactams prevailed among ARB in water and wastewater samples (constituting 82-88% of total counts of bacteria). The dominant genes in water and wastewater samples were blaTEM, tetA, sul1. The gene blaOXA demonstrated high variability of its concentration in samples collected in both seasons. Despite the high per cent reduction of ARB and ARGs concentration observed during the wastewater treatment processes, their large quantities are still transmitted into the environment. The research focuses on WWTPs' role in the dissemination of ARGs and MGEs in the aquatic environment.