Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 106–112 | Cite as

Antibiotic resistance of bacteria in raw and biologically treated sewage and in groundwater below leaking sewers

  • C. Gallert
  • K. Fund
  • J. WinterEmail author
Environmental Biotechnology


More than 750 isolates of faecal coliforms (>200 strains), enterococci (>200 strains) and pseudomonads (>340 strains) from three wastewater treatment plants (WTPs) and from four groundwater wells in the vicinity of leaking sewers were tested for resistance against 14 antibiotics. Most, or at least some, strains of the three bacterial groups, isolated from raw or treated sewage of the three WTPs, were resistant against penicillin G, ampicillin, vancomycin, erythromycin, triple sulfa and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (SXT). Only a few strains of pseudomonads or faecal coliforms were resistant against some of the other tested antibiotics. The antibiotic resistances of pseudomonads, faecal coliforms and enterococci from groundwater varied to a higher extent. In contrast to the faecal coliforms and enterococci, most pseudomonads from all groundwater samples, including those from non-polluted groundwater, were additionally resistant against chloramphenicol and SXT. Pseudomonads from sewage and groundwater had more multiple antibiotic resistances than the faecal coliforms or the enterococci, and many pseudomonads from groundwater were resistant to more antibiotics than those from sewage. The pseudomonads from non-polluted groundwater were the most resistant isolates of all. The few surviving faecal coliforms in groundwater seemed to gain multiple antibiotic resistances, whereas the enterococci lost antibiotic resistances. Pseudomonads, and presumably, other autochthonous soil or groundwater bacteria, such as antibiotic-producing Actinomyces sp., seem to contribute significantly to the gene pool for acquisition of resistances against antibiotics in these environments.


Sewage Pseudomonad Antibiotic Resistance Faecal Coliform Faecal Indicator Bacterium 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



wastewater treatment plant




colony-forming unit


ultra violet



This work was funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Bonn, Germany (FOR 350/1-1 and 350/1-2). We thank Mrs. M. Rüdiger-Albers for her skilful assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Ingenieurbiologie und Biotechnologie des AbwassersUniversität KarlsruheKarlsruheGermany

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