Simulating the fate of indigenous antibiotic resistant bacteria in a mild slope wastewater polluted stream

Antonino Fiorentino , Giuliana De Luca , Luigi Rizzo , Giacomo Viccione , Giusy Lofrano , Maurizio Carotenuto


Received January 10, 2017,Revised January 01, 1900, Accepted April 20, 2017, Available online May 03, 2017

Volume 69,2018,Pages 95-104

The fate of indigenous surface-water and wastewater antibiotic resistant bacteria in a mild slope stream simulated through a hydraulic channel was investigated in outdoor experiments. The effect of (i) natural (dark) decay, (ii) sunlight, (iii) cloudy cover, (iv) adsorption to the sediment, (v) hydraulic conditions, (vi) discharge of urban wastewater treatment plant (UWTP) effluent and (vii) bacterial species (presumptive Escherichia coli and enterococci) was evaluated. Half-life time (T1/2) of E. coli under sunlight was in the range 6.48–27.7 min (initial bacterial concentration of 105 CFU/mL) depending on hydraulic and sunlight conditions. E. coli inactivation was quite similar in sunny and cloudy day experiments in the early 2 hr, despite of the light intensity gradient was in the range of 15–59 W/m2; but subsequently the inactivation rate decreased in the cloudy day experiment (T1/2 = 23.0 min) compared to sunny day (T1/2 = 17.4 min). The adsorption of bacterial cells to the sediment (biofilm) increased in the first hour and then was quite stable for the remaining experimental time. Finally, when the discharge of an UWTP effluent in the stream was simulated, the proportion of indigenous antibiotic resistant E. coli and enterococci was found to increase as the exposure time increased, thus showing a higher resistance to solar inactivation compared to the respective total populations.

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