Spatiotemporal Investigation of Antibiotic Resistance in the Urban Water Cycle Influenced by Environmental and Anthropogenic Activity.

Keira Tucker; Leonardos Mageiros; Alno Carstens; Ludwig Bröcker; Edward Archer; Katrin Smith; Evangelos Mourkas; Ben Pascoe; Daan Nel; Guillaume Meric; Samuel K Sheppard; Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern; Marelize Botes; Edward J Feil; Gideon Wolfaardt
With increasing emergence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria (ARB) and the risk this poses to public health, there are growing concerns regarding water pollution contributing to the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) through inadequate amenities and the rapid rate of urbanization. In this study, the impact of different anthropogenic factors on the prevalence of AMR in the urban water cycle in Stellenbosch, South Africa (SA) was examined. Carbapenem, colistin, gentamicin and sulfamethoxazole resistant Gram-negative bacteria were recovered by selectively culturing aqueous, biofilm and sediment samples from sites impacted to varying degrees by informal settlements, residential, industrial, and agricultural activities, as well as a municipal wastewater treatment works (WWTW). A metagenomic approach determined community profiles and dominant AMR genes at various sites, while carbapenem resistant colonies were characterized using whole genome sequencing (WGS). Isolates recovered from agricultural sites exhibited relatively high levels of resistance to carbapenems and colistin, whereas sites impacted by domestic run-off had a higher prevalence of resistance to gentamicin and sulfamethoxazole, corresponding to usage data in SA. Similar microbial taxa were identified in raw sewage, sites downstream of informal settlements, and industrial areas that have limited waste removal infrastructure while WWTW were seen to reduce the prevalence of ARB in treated wastewater when operating efficiently. The results indicate the multiple complex drivers underpinning environmental dissemination of AMR and suggest that WWTW assist in removing AMR from the environment, reinforcing the necessity of adequate waste removal infrastructure and antibiotic stewardship measures to mitigate AMR transmission. The results from this study are of importance as they fill a gap in the data available on environmental AMR in South Africa to date. This study was done in parallel with co-investigators focusing on the prevalence of various antimicrobials at the same sites selected in our study, verifying that the sites that are influenced by informal settlements and WWTW influent had higher concentrations of antimicrobials and antimicrobial metabolites. The various locations of the sample sites selected, the frequency of the samples collected over a year, and the different types of samples collected at each site all contribute to informing how AMR in the environment might be affected by anthropogenic activity.IMPORTANCE
ISSN 2165-0497
Published 26 Oct 2022
Volume 10
Issue 5
Pages e0247322 e0247322
DOI 10.1128/spectrum.02473-22
Type Journal Article