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J Environ Biol. 2009 Jan;30(1):45-9.

Horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes among gram negative bacteria in sewage and lake water and influence of some physico-chemical parameters of water on conjugation process.

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Department of Microbiology, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran.


Transfer of antibiotic resistance genes among gram negative bacteria in sewage and lake water and easy access of these bacteria to the community are major environmental and public health concern. The aim of this study was to determine transfer of the antimicrobial resistance genes from resistant to susceptible gram negative bacteria in the sewage and lake water by conjugation process and to determine the influence of some physico-chemical parameters of sewage and lake water on the transfer of these resistance genes. For this reason, we isolated 20 liter of each sewage and lake water from coconut area within university campus and Lingambudi lake respectively in Mysore city, India, during monsoon season and studied different physical parameters of the water samples like pH, temperature, conductivity turbidity and color as well as chemical parameters like BOD, COD, field DO and total chloride ion. The gram negative bacteria were isolated and identified from the above water samples using microbiological and biochemical methods and their sensitivity to different antibiotics was determined by disc diffusion break point assay. Conjugation between two multiple antibiotic resistant isolates Pseudomonas aeuginosa and E. coli as donor and E. coli Rif(r) (sensitive to antibiotics) as recipient were carried out in 5ml sterile sewage and lake water. All isolates were resistant to Am, moderately resistant to Te and E, while majority were sensitive to Cip, Gm and CAZ antibiotics. Horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes by conjugation process revealed transfer of Gm, Te and E resistant genes from Ps. aeruginosa to E. coli Rif(r) recipient with mean frequency of +/- 2.3 x 10(-4) in sewage and +/- 2.6 x 10(-6) in lake water respectively Frequency of conjugation in sewage was two fold more as compared to lake water (p< or =0.05). Co- transfer study revealed simultaneous transfer of above resistant markers together to the recipient cells. As the above results indicate, due to selective pressure in sewage (presence of antibiotics), the isolates from sewage were more resistant to different antibiotics as compared to those from lake water. Furthermore, these resistance genes can transfer to sensitive bacteria by conjugation. Physico-chemical parameters of water may play role in this process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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