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Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Sep 3;47(17):9730-8. doi: 10.1021/es401507k. Epub 2013 Aug 19.

Long-term exposure to benzalkonium chloride disinfectants results in change of microbial community structure and increased antimicrobial resistance.

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1
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and ‡School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology , Atlanta Georgia 30332-0512, United States.

Abstract

The effect of benzalkonium chlorides (BACs), a widely used class of quaternary ammonium disinfectants, on microbial community structure and antimicrobial resistance was investigated using three aerobic microbial communities: BACs-unexposed (DP, fed a mixture of dextrin/peptone), BACs-exposed (DPB, fed a mixture of dextrin/peptone and BACs), and BACs-enriched (B, fed only BACs). Long-term exposure to BACs reduced community diversity and resulted in the enrichment of BAC-resistant species, predominantly Pseudomonas species. Exposure of the two microbial communities to BACs significantly decreased their susceptibility to BACs as well as three clinically relevant antibiotics (penicillin G, tetracycline, ciprofloxacin). Increased resistance to BACs and penicillin G of the two BACs-exposed communities is predominantly attributed to degradation or transformation of these compounds, whereas resistance to tetracycline and ciprofloxacin is largely due to the activity of efflux pumps. Quantification of several key multidrug resistance genes showed a much higher number of copies of these genes in the DPB and B microbial communities compared to the DP community. Collectively, our findings indicate that exposure of a microbial community to BACs results in increased antibiotic resistance, which has important implications for both human and environmental health.

PMID:
23924280
DOI:
10.1021/es401507k
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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