A PCR-DGGE approach to evaluate the impact of wastewater source on the antibiotic resistance diversity in treated wastewater effluent

Water Sci Technol. 2012;65(7):1323-31. doi: 10.2166/wst.2012.024.


Increased incidence of antibiotics in human-affected environments is raising concerns about increase in acquired antibiotic resistance by environmental bacteria. Wastewater collection and treatment systems are likely significant anthropogenic sinks and vectors for antibiotics and associated antibiotic resistance. Typical municipal treatment plants collect wastewaters of various sources, including well-established antibiotic resistance reservoirs such as hospitals, intensive care units and nursing homes, and integrate them with sources not commonly identified as major sources of antibiotic resistance, such as residential or industrial sources. A comprehensive PCR-DGGE diversity analysis of wastewater antibiotic-resistant bacteria was performed to evaluate the role of various wastewater sources in the discharge of antibiotic resistance by a municipal treatment plant. Wastewater sources are clearly inducing resistance in the final effluent but the role of each source type is highly variable, likely as a function of variable environmental conditions or water use patterns. Comparisons between primary treatment and secondary treatment stages indicate a strong role of the intensity of the wastewater treatment in the diversity profiles of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. While pervasiveness of antibiotic resistance in the system impedes clear discrimination between sources in the tested system, there are indications of specific source type related impacts.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Load
  • Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Water Pollution*