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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Short Communications

Broad-Host-Range Plasmids in Treated Wastewater Effluent and Receiving Streams


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 39 No. 6, p. 2211-2215
    Received: May 19, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): msavin@uark.edu
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  1. Tatsuya Akiyama,
  2. Kyle L. Asfahl and
  3. Mary C. Savin *
  1. Dep. of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences, 115 Plant Science Bldg., Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701. Assigned to Associate Editor Carl Bolster


The occurrence of broad-host-range (BHR) plasmid amplicons belonging to incompatibility (Inc) groups IncA/C, IncN, IncP, and IncW in two wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents and effluent-receiving streams in Northwest Arkansas, Mud Creek and Spring Creek, was determined. Community DNA captured on filter membranes and plasmid DNA extracted from antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli isolated from Mud Creek was used for polymerase chain reaction amplification of partial gene sequences specific to BHR plasmids. IncP plasmid amplicons were detected in effluent and downstream sites in both streams, while IncN and IncW plasmid amplicons were detected in Spring Creek in effluent and downstream but not upstream. IncA/C plasmid amplicons, in contrast, were detected at all sites, including upstream in most samples in Spring Creek and in one sample from Mud Creek. One IncP and two IncN were the only BHR plasmid amplicons found in 85 screened antibiotic-resistant E. coli isolates, and were detected only in isolates from effluent and downstream samples. Broad-host-range plasmids frequently carry antibiotic-resistance genes and can facilitate horizontal transfer of those genes. While BHR plasmids have been detected in WWTPs, WWTPs do not target these genetic elements for destruction. This study indicates that BHR plasmids are in WWTP effluent and are introducing BHR plasmids into streams. Additionally, species other than E. coli may be better targets as indicator bacteria for future studies of the impact of treated effluent on environmental dissemination of BHR plasmids.

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Copyright © 2010. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America