In the case of agricultural areas, excreted antibiotics can then enter stream and river environments through a variety of ways, including discharges from animal feeding operations, fish hatcheries, and nonpoint sources such as the flow from fields where manure or biosolids have been applied. Water filtered through wastewater treatment plants may also contain used antibiotics.
Consequently, these releases become "potential sources of antibiotic resistance genes," said Pruden.
The overall goal of their new research grant is to take advantage of the knowledge gained from the flooding in Colorado to help clarify what mechanisms control the fate and transport of antibiotic resistance genes originating from wastewater treatment plants and animal feeding operations in the watershed.
"Our overarching hypothesis is that two main mechanisms drive antibiotic resistance gene dissemination: selection by antibiotics and/or metals and the transport via physical processes such as sediment transport," Pruden said.
Their method will be to compare the antibiotic resistance elements in water and sediment samples along a defined pristine-urban-agricultural river gradient from before and after the flood. They will also compare antibiotics and metals in water and sediment samples along a defined pristine-urban-agricultural river gradient and examine the correlation with antibiotic resistance genes from before and after the flood.
"We believe our research will have vital implications for the development of effective policy and management practices to prolong the useful lifespan of antibiotics critical to human and animal health," Pruden said.
Emily Lipscomb, of Swanton, Md., an NSF graduate research fellow, will help carry out the project along with assistance from undergraduate students alongside the trio of faculty leadi
|Contact: Lynn Nystrom|