Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Riverside, California » Agricultural Water Efficiency and Salinity Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #380690

Research Project: Identifying, Quantifying and Tracking Microbial Contaminants, Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Order to Protect Food and Water Supplies

Location: Agricultural Water Efficiency and Salinity Research Unit

Title: Prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes in pharmaceutical wastewaters

item OBAYIUWANA, AMARACHUKWU - Augustine University Ilara
item OGUNJOBI, ADENIYI - University Of Ibadan
item Ibekwe, Abasiofiok - Mark

Submitted to: Water
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/20/2021
Publication Date: 6/23/2021
Citation: Obayiuwana, A., Ogunjobi, A., Ibekwe, A.M. 2021. Prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes in pharmaceutical wastewaters. Water. 13(13). Article 1731.

Interpretive Summary: Resistance to antibiotics in clinical therapy in both humans and animals is receiving considerable attention in public health worldwide. Pharmaceutical wastewater environments play an important role in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance determinants. In this study, we investigated the abundance and diversity of antibiotic resistance genes obtained from four wastewater treatment plants. In the study area, most pharmaceutical industries produce varieties of antibiotics in a single production plant, and in most cases, they lack wastewater treatment before the effluents are released into the environment and other bodies of water. Our findings indicate that pharmaceutical wastewater can play a significant role in the emergence of antibiotic resistance genes. Therefore, to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance genes, the wastewaters produced from these facilities should be passed through a wastewater treatment plant, and the sewage sludge produced by this WWTP should be treated. The results of this research will be used by water quality managers, World Health Organization, researchers, international water management institute, EPA, and other local agencies that are involved in irrigation management in in many developing countries.

Technical Abstract: Pharmaceutical wastewaters are recognized as reservoirs of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB); also as hotspots for their horizontal gene transfer (HGT) using mobile genetic elements. Our study employed the use of PCR analysis of metagenomic DNA samples obtained from four pharmaceutical wastewaters using known primers to study the prevalence of thirty-six ARGs and four MGEs active against the commonly used antibiotics in Nigeria. The ARGs most frequently detected from the metagenomic DNA samples in each of the antibiotic classes under study include, tetracycline [tet(G)]; aminoglycoside [aadA, strA and strB]; chloramphenicol [catA1]; sulphonamides [sulI and sulII]; ß-lactams & Penicillins [blaOXA]. The ARGs showed a 100% prevalence in their various environmental sources. The pharmaceutical facility PFIV showed the highest concentration of ARGs in this study. The highest concentration for MGEs was shown by pharmaceutical facility PFIII, positive for intl1, intl2 and IFS genes. This study highlights wide distribution of ARGs to the antibiotics tested in the wastewater, making pharmaceutical wastewater reservoirs of ARGs which could potentially be transferred from commensal microorganisms to human pathogens.