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Bacterial perspectives on the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes in domestic wastewater bio-treatment systems: beneficiary to victim

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jan DolfingORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Springer Verlag, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2017 Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature Domestic wastes, ranging from sewage and sludge to municipal solid waste, are usually treated in bioprocessing systems. These systems are regarded as main conduits for the elevated levels of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) observed in the environment. This paper mainly reviews recent studies on the occurrence and dynamics of ARGs in wastewater bio-treatment systems and discusses the ins and outs of ARG dissemination from the perspective of the microbial community. Our analysis shows that concentration of antibiotics through adsorption to microbial aggregates triggers the bacteria to acquire ARGs, which can be facilitated by the presence of mobile genetic elements. Notably, the acquisition and flow of ARGs during the rapid dissemination process is directed towards and for the best interests of the microbial community as a whole, and is influenced by surrounding nutrient levels, toxicant types, and sensitivities of the species in the prevailing antibiotic-stressed conditions. Furthermore, our review argues that predation of ARG-carrying bacteria by bacteriophages does periodically enhance the accessibility of ARGs to bacteria, which indirectly facilitates the recruitment of ARGs into environmental microbial communities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wu D, Dolfing J, Xie B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Year: 2018

Volume: 102

Issue: 2

Pages: 597-604

Print publication date: 01/01/2018

Online publication date: 02/12/2017

Acceptance date: 17/11/2017

Date deposited: 14/02/2018

ISSN (print): 0175-7598

ISSN (electronic): 1432-0614

Publisher: Springer Verlag


DOI: 10.1007/s00253-017-8665-y


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Funder referenceFunder name
IE131283Royal Society