Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014AZ530B

Development of Antibiotic Resistance during Wastewater Treatment

Institute: Arizona
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-03-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $7,500 Total Non-Federal Funds: $15,000

Principal Investigators: Jean McLain

Abstract: As communities throughout the U.S. and the world move towards increased wastewater reclamation to augment surface and groundwater supplies, the potential for the release of antibiotic-resistant bacteria into the environment grows in concern. However, despite the potential for antibiotic resistance proliferation in wastewater treatment, few studies have attempted to identify processes or operational conditions contributing to the selection of resistant bacteria or those that are capable of reducing the level of resistance in wastewater. Such information is critical in quantifying the environmental burden of wastewater treatment plants with respect to antibiotic resistance and developing the most effective treatment strategies to mitigate concerns. The proposed study will quantify the impact of treatment optimization on the development of resistance in bacteria using bacterial cultivation methods. Bacterial isolates will be exposed to four antibiotics to assess the level of resistance using laboratory methods developed by the PI. This work will be part of a larger study (with cooperators from University of Nevada, Las Vegas) that will also quantify the presence of resistance genes and trace levels of antibiotics in wastewater samples at several full-scale treatment plants. This work will also serve to train a promising pre-medical undergraduate at the University of Arizona in laboratory methodologies. By characterizing the long-term impacts of AR in the environment, this study will provide additional knowledge and tools for treatment process optimization, resistance mitigation, and future risk communication efforts.