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Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Sep 15;45(18):7855-61. doi: 10.1021/es200827t. Epub 2011 Aug 19.

Effect of various sludge digestion conditions on sulfonamide, macrolide, and tetracycline resistance genes and class I integrons.

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Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 418 Durham Hall, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA.

Abstract

Wastewater treatment processes are of growing interest as a potential means to limit the dissemination of antibiotic resistance. This study examines the response of nine representative antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) encoding resistance to sulfonamide (sulI, sulII), erythromycin (erm(B), erm(F)), and tetracycline (tet(O), tet(W), tet(C), tet(G), tet(X)) to various laboratory-scale sludge digestion processes. The class I integron gene (intI1) was also monitored as an indicator of horizontal gene transfer potential and multiple antibiotic resistance. Mesophilic anaerobic digestion at both 10 and 20 day solids retention times (SRTs) significantly reduced sulI, suII, tet(C), tet(G), and tet(X) with longer SRT exhibiting a greater extent of removal; however, tet(W), erm(B) and erm(F) genes increased relative to the feed. Thermophilic anaerobic digesters operating at 47 °C, 52 °C, and 59 °C performed similarly to each other and provided more effective reduction of erm(B), erm(F), tet(O), and tet(W) compared to mesophilic digestion. However, thermophilic digestion resulted in similar or poorer removal of all other ARGs and intI1. Thermal hydrolysis pretreatment drastically reduced all ARGs, but they generally rebounded during subsequent anaerobic and aerobic digestion treatments. To gain insight into potential mechanisms driving ARG behavior in the digesters, the dominant bacterial communities were compared by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. The overall results suggest that bacterial community composition of the sludge digestion process, as controlled by the physical operating characteristics, drives the distribution of ARGs present in the produced biosolids, more so than the influent ARG composition.

PMID:
21815642
DOI:
10.1021/es200827t
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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