Prevalence and transmission of antibiotic resistance and microbiota between humans and water environments

Zhen-Chao Zhou, Wan-Qiu Feng, Yue Han, Ji Zheng, Tao Chen, Yuan-Yuan Wei, Michael Gillings, Yong-Guan Zhu, Hong Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    86 Citations (Scopus)
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    The transmission routes for antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and microbiota between humans and water environments is poorly characterized. Here, we used high-throughput qPCR analyses and 16S rRNA gene sequencing to examine the occurrence and abundance of antibiotic resistance genes and microbiota in both healthy humans and associated water environments from a Chinese village. Humans carried the most diverse assemblage of ARGs, with 234 different ARGs being detected. The total abundance of ARGs in feces, on skin, and in the effluent from domestic sewage treatment systems were approximately 23, 2, and 7 times higher than their abundance in river samples. In total, 53 ARGs and 28 bacteria genera that were present in human feces could also be found in the influent and effluent of rural sewage treatment systems, and also downstream of the effluent release point. We identified the bacterial taxa that showed a significant association with ARGs (P < 0.01, r > 0.8) by network analysis, supporting the idea that these bacteria could carry some ARGs and transfer between humans and the environment. Analysis of ARGs and microbiota in humans and in water environments helps to define the transmission routes and dynamics of antibiotic resistance within these environments. This study highlights human contribution to the load of ARGs into the environment and suggests means to prevent such dissemination.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1155-1161
    Number of pages7
    JournalEnvironment International
    Issue numberPt 2
    Early online date9 Nov 2018
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • peri-urban
    • aquatic
    • wastewater
    • drinking water
    • human
    • resistance


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