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ISME J. 2007 Nov;1(7):585-95. Epub 2007 Sep 6.

Effects of ciprofloxacin on salt marsh sediment microbial communities.

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Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, CA, USA.


Fluoroquinolones, a widely used class of antibiotics, are frequently detected in sediments and surface waters. Given their antimicrobial properties, the presence of these compounds may alter the composition of microbial communities and promote antibiotic resistance in the environment. The purpose of this study was to measure sorption, and effects of ciprofloxacin on microbial community composition, in sediment samples from three California salt marshes. Sediments were exposed to a ciprofloxacin concentration gradient (0-200 microg ml(-1) ciprofloxacin) and microbial community composition characterized using phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis. Sorption coefficients, expressed as log K(d), were calculated from fits using the Freundlich isotherm model. Ciprofloxacin strongly sorbed to all sediments and had log K(d) values, ranging from 2.9 to 4.3. Clay content was positively (r(2)=0.98) and pH negatively (r(2)=0.99) correlated to K(d) values. Biomass, PLFA richness, sulfate reducer and Gram-negative bacteria markers increased with ciprofloxacin concentrations, while the 17 cy/precursor and saturated/unsaturated biomarker ratios, indicators of starvation stress, decreased. The magnitude of the effect of ciprofloxacin on microbial communities was inversely correlated to the degree of sorption to the sediments. Despite the fact that ciprofloxacin is a wide-spectrum antibiotic, its impact on sediment microbial communities was selective and appeared to favor sulfate-reducing bacteria and Gram-negative bacteria.

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