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Multidrug-resistant bacteria and microbial communities in a river estuary with fragmented suburban waste management

Lookup NU author(s): Jia Yee Ho, Florence Jong, Dr Kishor AcharyaORCiD, Sylvia Xian, Daniel Smith, Zainura Noor, Dr Michaela Goodson, Professor David WernerORCiD, Professor David GrahamORCiD, Dr Jeyanthy Eswaran



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020. River systems in developing and emerging countries are often fragmented relative to land and waste management in their catchment. The impact of inconsistent waste management and releases is a major challenge in water quality management. To examine how anthropogenic activities and estuarine effects impact water quality, we characterised water conditions, in-situ microbiomes, profiles of faecal pollution indicator, pathogenic and antibiotic resistant bacteria in the River Melayu, Southern Malaysia. Overall, upstream sampling locations were distinguished from those closer to the coastline by physicochemical parameters and bacterial communities. The abundances of bacterial DNA, total E. coli marker genes, culturable bacteria as well as antibiotic resistance ESBL-producing bacteria were elevated at upstream sampling locations especially near discharge of a wastewater oxidation pond. Furthermore, 85.7% of E. faecalis was multidrug-resistant (MDR), whereas 100% of E. cloacae, E. coli, K. pneumoniae were MDR. Overall, this work demonstrates how pollution in river estuaries does not monotonically change from inland towards the coast but varies according to local waste releases and tidal mixing. We also show that surrogate markers, such dissolved oxygen, Bacteroides and Prevotella abundances, and the rodA qPCR assay for total E. coli, can identify locations on a river that deserve immediate attention to mitigate AMR spread through improved waste management.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ho JY, Jong M-C, Acharya K, Xian SLS, Smith DR, Noor ZZ, Goodson ML, Werner D, Graham DW, Eswaran J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Hazardous Materials

Year: 2021

Volume: 405

Print publication date: 05/03/2021

Online publication date: 27/11/2020

Acceptance date: 24/11/2020

Date deposited: 13/12/2020

ISSN (print): 0304-3894

ISSN (electronic): 1873-3336

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.124687


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