Influence of a non-hospital medical care facility on antimicrobial resistance in wastewater

PLoS One. 2015 Mar 30;10(3):e0122635. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0122635. eCollection 2015.


The global widespread use of antimicrobials and accompanying increase in resistant bacterial strains is of major public health concern. Wastewater systems and wastewater treatment plants are considered a niche for antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), with diverse microbial communities facilitating ARG transfer via mobile genetic element (MGE). In contrast to hospital sewage, wastewater from other health care facilities is still poorly investigated. At the instance of a nursing home located in south-west Germany, in the present study, shotgun metagenomics was used to investigate the impact on wastewater of samples collected up- and down-stream in different seasons. Microbial composition, ARGs and MGEs were analyzed using different annotation approaches with various databases, including Antibiotic Resistance Ontologies (ARO), integrons and plasmids. Our analysis identified seasonal differences in microbial communities and abundance of ARG and MGE between samples from different seasons. However, no obvious differences were detected between up- and downstream samples. The results suggest that, in contrast to hospitals, sewage from the nursing home does not have a major impact on ARG or MGE in wastewater, presumably due to much less intense antimicrobial usage. Possible limitations of metagenomic studies using high-throughput sequencing for detection of genes that seemingly confer antibiotic resistance are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Health Facilities*
  • Interspersed Repetitive Sequences
  • Metagenomics*
  • Nursing Homes
  • Seasons
  • Sequence Analysis
  • Waste Water / microbiology*


  • Waste Water

Associated data

  • SRA/SAMN02725022
  • SRA/SAMN02725023
  • SRA/SAMN02725024
  • SRA/SAMN02725025

Grant support

This study was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (02WRS1280A - J) as part of the research program “Risk Management of Emerging Compounds and Pathogens in the Water Cycle (RiSKWa)”.