Urban beaches are environmental hotspots for antibiotic resistance following rainfall

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Water Research, 2019, 167
Issue Date:
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© 2019 Elsevier Ltd To reveal the occurrence and mechanisms for dispersal of antibiotic resistance (AbR) among the microbial assemblages inhabiting impacted coastal environments, we performed a weekly, two-year duration time-series study at two urban beaches between 2014 and 2016. We combined quantitative PCR and multiplex PCR/reverse line blot techniques to track patterns in the occurrence of 31 AbR genes, including genes that confer resistance to antibiotics that are critically important antimicrobials for human medicine. Patterns in the abundance of these genes were linked to specific microbial groups and environmental parameters by coupling qPCR and 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing data with network analysis. Up to 100-fold increases in the abundance of several AbR genes, including genes conferring resistance to quinolones, trimethoprim, sulfonamides, tetracycline, vancomycin and carbapenems, occurred following storm-water and modelled wet-weather sewer overflow events. The abundance of AbR genes strongly and significantly correlated with several potentially pathogenic bacterial OTUs regularly associated with wastewater infrastructure, such as Arcobacter, Acinetobacter, Aeromonas and Cloacibacterium. These high-resolution observations provide clear links between storm-water discharge and sewer overflow events and the occurrence of AbR in the coastal microbial assemblages inhabiting urban beaches, highlighting a direct mechanism for potentially significant AbR exposure risks to humans.
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