Fluoroquinolones and qnr genes in sediment, water, soil, and human fecal flora in an environment polluted by manufacturing discharges

Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Jul 15;48(14):7825-32. doi: 10.1021/es501452a. Epub 2014 Jul 2.


There is increasing concern that environmental antibiotic pollution promotes transfer of resistance genes to the human microbiota. Here, fluoroquinolone-polluted river sediment, well water, irrigated farmland, and human fecal flora of local villagers within a pharmaceutical industrial region in India were analyzed for quinolone resistance (qnr) genes by quantitative PCR. Similar samples from Indian villages farther away from industrial areas, as well as fecal samples from Swedish study participants and river sediment from Sweden, were included for comparison. Fluoroquinolones were detected by MS/MS in well water and soil from all villages located within three km from industrially polluted waterways. Quinolone resistance genes were detected in 42% of well water, 7% of soil samples and in 100% and 18% of Indian and Swedish river sediments, respectively. High antibiotic concentrations in Indian sediment coincided with high abundances of qnr, whereas lower fluoroquinolone levels in well water and soil did not. We could not find support for an enrichment of qnr in fecal samples from people living in the fluoroquinolone-contaminated villages. However, as qnr was detected in 91% of all Indian fecal samples (24% of the Swedish) it suggests that the spread of qnr between people is currently a dominating transmission route.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / analysis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Environmental Pollution / analysis*
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Fluoroquinolones / analysis*
  • Gene Dosage
  • Genes, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry*
  • Geologic Sediments / microbiology
  • Humans
  • India
  • Industrial Waste / analysis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rivers / chemistry
  • Rural Population
  • Soil / chemistry
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Industrial Waste
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical