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Distribution of tetracycline resistance genes and AmpC β-lactamase genes in representative non-urban sewage plants and correlations with treatment processes and heavy metals

Xu, Yan-Bin, Hou, Mao-Yu, Li, Ya-Fei, Huang, Lu, Ruan, Jing-Jing, Zheng, Li, Qiao, Qing-Xia, Du, Qing-Ping
Chemosphere 2017 v.170 pp. 274-281
antibiotic resistance, beta-lactamase, cadmium, copper, genes, heavy metals, industry, lead, livestock breeding, pollution, sewage, sewage treatment, sludge, tetracycline, wastewater, zinc, China
The mixed development of livestock breeding and industry in non-urban zones is a very general phenomenon in China. Distribution of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in non-urban sewage treatment systems has not been paid enough attentions. In this study, eleven tetracycline resistance genes (tetA, tetB, tetC, tetE, tetG, tetL, tetM, tetO, tetQ, tetS and tetX), four AmpC β-lactamase genes (EBC, MOX, FOX and CIT) and four heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb) were detected and analyzed in four non-urban sewage plants with different sewage sources and different treatment processes in Guangzhou. The results showed that tetA and tetC were the most prevalent tetracycline resistance genes with the same detection frequency of 85% and EBC was the most prevalent AmpC β-lactamase gene with a detection frequency of 75%. The relative abundance of tetracycline resistance genes was approximately 1.6 orders of magnitudes higher than that of AmpC β-lactamase genes in all samples. A/O was the most effective process for the non-urban sewage plant receiving industrial or agricultural wastewater. Sedimentation was the most key process to eliminate ARGs from liquid phase. Most ARGs were carried in excess sludge rather than effluent. Significant correlation was found between the tet gene and Zn (r = 0.881, p < 0.01), followed by the AmpC gene and Cu (r = 0.847, p < 0.01), the tet gene and Cu (r = 0.714, p < 0.05). Therefore, the pollution of ARGs in the sewage treatment systems of non-urban zones co-polluted by heavy metals should be paid more attentions.