State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2009NJ188B
Title: Antibiotic pollution of aquatic habitats and impact on the development of environmental pools of resistance in natural microbial communities
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2009
End Date: 2/28/2010
Congressional District: 6
Focus Categories: Water Quality, Groundwater, Non Point Pollution
Principal Investigator: Bini, Elisabetta
Federal Funds: $ 30,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 60,000
Abstract: Acquisition of antibiotic resistance by microbial pathogens is a top concern for public health. The mechanisms that allow antibiotic resistance to spread to non-resistant microorganisms are well established and known to be mediated by mobile genetic elements. The presence and persistence of antibiotics in the environment is beginning to be recognized as an emerging global issue, because of its potential contribution to the occurrence and re-emergence of infectious diseases. Antibiotics are used in human and veterinary medicine, as well as in animal farming and aquaculture, and eventually are released in the environment. In fact, surveys of environmental waters world-wide have detected the presence of antibiotics in effluents from sewage treatment plants, and also in surface waters, ground waters, and seawaters. Thus, antibiotic contaminants in aquatic environments have the potential to contribute to the selection of resistant microrganisms in natural communities of non-pathogens, creating a stable pool of resistance genes that could facilitate the development of resistance to antibiotics in pathogenic bacteria. The proposed work intends to establish (1) whether there is a correlation between environmental presence of antibiotics and spread of resistance to natural microbial populations and (2) whether these sites act as reservoirs of antibiotic resistance determinants. A better understanding of the environmental impacts of antibiotics on microbial communities will help develop an appreciation of the health risks and environmental consequences associated with antibiotic pollution.

Progress/Completion Report, 2009, PDF

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