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Effects of earthworms on the fate of tetracycline and fluoroquinolone resistance genes of sewage sludge during vermicomposting

Author:
Huang, Kui, Xia, Hui, Wu, Ying, Chen, Jingyang, Cui, Guangyu, Li, Fusheng, Chen, Yongzhi, Wu, Nan
Source:
Bioresource technology 2018 v.259 pp. 32-39
ISSN:
0960-8524
Subject:
antibiotic resistance genes, bacteria, bacterial communities, community structure, earthworms, environmental factors, fluoroquinolones, horizontal gene transfer, sewage sludge, tetracycline, vermicomposting
Abstract:
Diverse antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) present in sewage sludge are difficult to be eliminated using conventional sludge treatment processes. To date, little remains known on the fate of the ARGs during vermicomposting of sludge. This study aimed to investigate the effect of earthworms on the fate of tetracycline and fluoroquinolone resistance genes, and integrons during vermicomposting of sewage sludge through contrasting two systems of sludge stabilization with and without earthworms. Compared to the control without earthworms, vermicomposting significantly (p < 0.05) decreased the abundances of tetracycline and fluoroquinolone resistance genes and int1, with complete removal for parC. Variations in ARGs were associated with environmental factors, horizontal gene transfer, bacterial community composition, and earthworms during vermicomposting. In addition, earthworms strongly affected the possible host bacteria encoding ARGs and Int1, abating the pathogenic bacteria in vermicomposting product. These results imply that vermicomposting could effectively reduce tetracycline and fluoroquinolone resistance genes in the sludge.