Metagenomic analysis reveals the prevalence and persistence of antibiotic- and heavy metal-resistance genes in wastewater treatment plant
The increased antibiotic resistance among microorganisms has resulted into growing interest for investigating the wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) as they are reported to be the major source in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and heavy metal resistance genes (HMRGs) in the environment. In this study, we investigated the prevalence and persistence of ARGs and HMRGs as well as bacterial diversity and mobile genetic elements (MGEs) in influent and effluent at the WWTP in Gwangju, South Korea, using high-throughput sequencing based metagenomic approach. A good number of broad-spectrum of resistance genes (both ARG and HMRG) were prevalent and likely persistent, although large portion of them were successfully removed at the wastewater treatment process. The relative abundance of ARGs and MGEs was higher in effluent as compared to that of influent. Our results suggest that the resistance genes with high abundance and bacteria harbouring ARGs and MGEs are likely to persist more through the treatment process. On analyzing the microbial community, the phylum Proteobacteria, especially potentially pathogenic species belonging to the genus Acinetobacter, dominated in WWTP. Overall, our study demonstrates that many ARGs and HMRGs may persist the treatment processes in WWTPs and their association to MGEs may contribute to the dissemination of resistance genes among microorganisms in the environment.
Keywordsantibiotic resistance genes heavy metal resistance genes metagenomics persistence wastewater treatment plant
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