Microplastics in sewage, 'hubs' for drug-resistant bacteria: Study

Microplastics in sewage, 'hubs' for drug-resistant bacteria: Study
NEW YORK: Microplastic particles can 'nodes' are allowed for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and pathogens to grow once they flush household drains and enter wastewater treatment plants, a new study finds.
According to the scientists, including those at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in the US, these plastic particles less than five mm in length, called microplastics, can form a slimy layer or biofilm on their surface that allows bacteria and antibiotics. garbage clinging.
The research, published in the Journal of Danger Materials Letters, noted that certain strains of bacteria have increased antibiotic resistance up to 30 times when they live on microplastic biofilms that form in sludge units from municipal wastewater treatment plants.
"A number of recent studies have focused on the negative effects millions of tons of microplastic waste per year have on our freshwater and ocean environment, but until now the role of microplastics in the wastewater treatment processes in our cities has been largely unknown," said co-author. Mengyan Li from NJIT.
“These wastewater treatment plants can be hotspots where different chemicals, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and pathogens converge and what our research shows is that microplastics can serve as their carriers and pose imminent risks to aquatic biota and human health if they bypass the water treatment process . & # 39; added Li.
In the study, the scientists looked at batches of sludge samples from three household wastewater treatment plants in New Jersey, USA, with the samples inoculated in the lab with two widespread commercial microplastics – polyethylene and polystyrene.
They then identified the types of bacteria that tend to grow on the microplastics, tracking the genetic changes of the bacteria along the way.
The researchers found that three genes in particular – sul1, sul2 and intI1 – that are known to aid in resistance to common antibiotics, sulfonamides, were found to be up to 30 times greater on the microplastic biofilms than in the laboratory control tests. with sand biofilms after just three days.
When the scientists added the antibiotic, sulfamethoxazole, to these samples, they found that it boosted antibiotic resistance genes up to 4.5-fold.
Dung Ngoc Pham, another co-author of the NJIT study, said, “Previously we thought that the presence of antibiotics would be necessary to amplify antibiotic resistance genes in these microplastics-associated bacteria, but it appears that microplastics naturally uptake of these resistance genes by themselves. "
"However, the presence of antibiotics has a significant multiplier effect," said Pham.
Of the eight different bacterial species the scientists found, two emerging human pathogens were found that are typically related to respiratory infections.
"We could think of microplastics as tiny beads, but they provide a huge surface for microbes to reside," said Li.
According to the researchers, bacteria can attach to the surface and secrete adhesive-like substances when microplastics enter the wastewater treatment plant and mix with sludge.
“As other bacteria attach to the surface and grow, they can even exchange DNA with each other. This is how the antibiotic resistance genes are distributed to the community,” explains Li.
The scientists said more such studies are needed to better understand the extent to which such pathogen-bearing microplastics might pass through water treatment processes.

. (tagsToTranslate) wastewater treatment plants (t) microplastics (t) drug resistant bacteria (t) biofilm (t) antibiotic

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