Research Topic

Contribution of Wastewaters and Wastewater Treatment Plants on Antibiotic Resistance Situation: Health Risk Characterization, Intervention Technologies, and Surveillance Concepts

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The occurrence of new chemical and microbiological contaminants in the aquatic environment has become an issue of increasing environmental concern. Wastewaters from different origins (urban, agriculture, hospital, manure etc.) are discussed to increase the abundances of clinically relevant antibiotic ...

The occurrence of new chemical and microbiological contaminants in the aquatic environment has become an issue of increasing environmental concern. Wastewaters from different origins (urban, agriculture, hospital, manure etc.) are discussed to increase the abundances of clinically relevant antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB). These wastewaters reach directly or indirectly via effluents of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) the adjacent aquatic environments. Actually, WWTPs seem to play an important part in the distribution of pathogens and antibiotic resistances. Further technical interventions are needed to reduce or eliminate their dissemination to the aquatic environment. Different physical (e.g. UV, membrane technologies) and chemical (e.g. ozone, chlorine) interventions methods or combinatory approaches (e.g. solar fenton) are in the focus to interrupt the dissemination of antibiotic resistant bacteria as well as antibiotic resistant genes (ARGs). Reduction efficiencies, selection processes, mutation rates introduced by the different technical approaches are studied for the impacts on the ecosystems in receiving bodies. Besides the qualitative and quantitative detection of clinically relevant ARBs and ARGs and metagenome analyses, factors influencing horizontal gene transfer at WWTPs are of specific interest including process management. Here, the transformation with extracellular DNA (eDNA) or transduction via bacteriophages should be in the focus of research.


Hence, surveillance concepts are needed for the characterization of antibiotic resistance situations, which includes the identification of indicator organisms and genes, parameters to define the quality of WWTP effluents leading to a comprehensive microbiological risk control. Here, modeling approaches are a valuable tool for the simulation of different kind of scenarios, which have an impact on efficiencies of treatment processes (e.g. high waters, low waters, etc.). This would be an important issue discussing direct or indirect wastewater re-use in industrial and developing countries


Keywords: Antibiotic resistance, wastewaters, intervention technologies, risk characterization, regulation


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