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Changes of quinolone resistance genes and their relations with microbial profiles during vermicomposting of municipal excess sludge

Cui, Guangyu, Li, Fusheng, Li, Shuailei, Bhat, Sartaj Ahmad, Ishiguro, Yasushi, Wei, Yongfen, Yamada, Toshiro, Fu, Xiaoyong, Huang, Kui
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.644 pp. 494-502
Eisenia fetida, Flavobacteriales, activated sludge, antibiotic resistance genes, bacteria, earthworms, enzyme activity, quinolones, ribosomal DNA, vermicomposting, vermicomposts
Antibiotic resistance genes abundant in municipal excess sludge reduce the agricultural value of vermicompost. However, little attention has been paid on the fate and behavior of the problem-causing agents in vermicomposting. In this study, the fate and behavior of quinolone resistance genes in excess activated sludge during vermicomposting were studied with reactors introduced with Eisenia fetida for three different densities. The substrate pile without earthworms was operated as control in parallel. The results showed that earthworms could significantly reduce the absolute abundance of quinolone resistance genes in the excess sludge, with a reduction ratio of 85.6–100% for qnr A and 92.3–95.3% for qnr S, respectively (p < 0.05). For microbial profiles, both the dehydrogenase activity and the abundance of microbes (16S rDNA) revealed a distinct decreasing trend after 7 days from the start of the experiment; however, the bacterial diversity in the final products seemed to be enriched with the emergence of the uncultured Flavobacteriales bacterium and uncultured Anaerolineaceae bacterium. Redundancy analysis revealed clearly that the qnr genes had positive correlations with the targeted indexes of microbial profiles, with the correlations with the bacterial abundance and dehydrogenase activity being more statistically significant than the bacterial diversity (p < 0.05). The results of this study suggested that earthworms could promote the attenuation of quinolone resistance genes in the excess sludge through lowering the bacterial abundance and activity, and the promotion effect could be enhanced by increasing the density of earthworms.