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Genetic material present in hospital wastewaters: Evaluation of the efficiency of DNA denaturation by ozonolysis and ozonolysis/sonolysis treatments

Somensi, Cleder A., Souza, André L.F., Simionatto, Edésio L., Gaspareto, Patrick, Millet, Maurice, Radetski, Claudemir M.
Journal of environmental management 2015 v.162 pp. 74-80
DNA, agarose, antibiotic resistance, cell viability, denaturation, disinfection, gel electrophoresis, genes, horizontal gene transfer, hospitals, managers, microorganisms, ozonolysis, wastewater, wastewater treatment
Hospital wastewater treatments must ensure that all genetic material is destroyed, since nuclear and extra-nuclear DNA can show antimicrobial resistance and contain recombinant genes, which promote vertical and/or horizontal gene transfer, amplifying the current problem of the emergence of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. In this study, we investigated whether ozonolysis or ozonolysis/sonolysis in combination can denature genetic material, i.e., destroy the integrity of DNA molecules, present in hospital wastewaters. To achieve this goal, hospital wastewaters were treated by ozonolysis or ozonolysis/sonolysis in combination (at 70 and 100 W L−1) and both raw and treated wastewaters were analyzed in terms of disinfection and DNA denaturation efficiency quantified by viable cell counts and by agarose gel electrophoresis. In the ozonolysis treatment, the agarose gel electrophoresis technique showed that the ozone-treated samples contained DNA molecules, while combined ozonolysis/sonolysis destroyed the DNA in a power density-dependent manner (64% at 70 W L−1 and 81% at 100 W L−1). Care must be taken by environmental managers to distinguish disinfection processes from DNA denaturation processes, since these two terms are not synonymous.