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Water Res. 2006 Jul;40(12):2427-35. Epub 2006 Jun 6.

Effect of river landscape on the sediment concentrations of antibiotics and corresponding antibiotic resistance genes (ARG).

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Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, 1372 Campus Mail, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, 80523, USA.


The purpose of this study was to quantify antibiotic resistance genes (ARG) in the sediments of the mixed-landscape Cache La Poudre River, which has previously been studied and shown to have high concentrations of antibiotics related to urban and agricultural activities. River sediments were sampled during two events (high-flow and low-flow) from five sites with varying urban and agricultural impact levels. Polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) detection assays were conducted for four sulfonamide resistance gene families, using newly designed primers, and five tetracycline resistance gene families, using previously published primers. Sul(I), sul(II), tet(W), and tet(O) gene families were further quantified by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR). Resistance to four classes of antibiotics (tetracyclines, sulfonamides, ionophores, and macrolides) was also investigated using a culture-based approach. The quantities of resistance genes normalized to the 16S gene copy number were significantly different between the sites, with higher resistance gene concentrations at the impacted sites than at the pristine site. Total resistant CFUs were over an order of magnitude lower at the pristine site, but differences were less apparent when normalized to the total CFUs. Six tetracyclines and six sulfonamides were also quantified in the sediments and were found to be highest at sites impacted by urban and agricultural activity, with no antibiotics detected at the pristine sit. To the knowledge of the authors, this study is the first to demonstrate a relationship between urban and agricultural activity and microbial resistance in river sediments using quantitative molecular tools.

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