Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Found in Ganga Waters

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Found in Ganga Waters

Antibiotic resistance appears to be spreading in the environment. A new study has found a large number of bacteria which are resistant to commonly used antibiotics in stretches of river Ganga.

Residues of antibiotics reach water bodies through waste discharged from households, drug manufacturing units, hospitals and poultry industry where antibiotics are used in feed. These antibiotics in water lead to the evolution of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, which then grow in numbers and spread in the environment. The situation could pose a danger to human health as an infection with such kind of resistant bacteria could become untreatable.

bacteria.jpg
Representative image source: Pixabay, labeled for reuse

The new study, done by researchers from the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), has found the presence of antibiotic as well as and metal resistant bacteria in river Ganga. Researchers collected water and sediment samples from five river banks - Assi, Bhadaini, Harishchandra Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Rajghat. The DNA was extracted from these samples and subjected to a high throughput technique to sequence DNA of all bacteria present in the samples.

A comparison of this information with existing sequences of antibiotic and metal resistance genes showed that bacteria resistant to antibiotics like beta-lactam, multidrug/efflux and elfamycin are highly abundant in the river water. At the same time, bacteria resilient to a range of commonly used antibiotics were also present in water samples.

" Varanasi region receives over 309.8 million liters of treated and untreated domestic waste daily by various point and non-point sources, which may be contributing to the accumulation of resistant genes in the environment " :Dr. Suresh Kumar Dubey.

In the case of metals, bacteria had genes resistant to ions of silver, copper, iron, chromium, arsenic and zinc. “This study suggests that antibiotics and metals are the driving force for the emergence of resistance genes, and their subsequent propagation and accumulation in the environmental bacteria,” researchers have pointed out.

“Varanasi region receives over 309.8 million liters of treated and untreated domestic waste daily by various point and non-point sources, which may be contributing to the accumulation of resistant genes in the environment,” explained Dr. Suresh Kumar Dubey, professor at Molecular Ecology Laboratory, Centre of Advanced Study in Botany at BHU and author of the study, while speaking to India Science Wire.

The results of this study, he said, will be useful to regulatory agencies like state and central pollution control boards in making a policy change to enforce pollution control regulation to stop further input of antibiotics and toxic metals in the river through the domestic, hospital and industrial wastewater.

The study was done by Dr. Bhaskar Reddy and Dr. S. K Dubey with support from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Science and Engineering Board (SERB). The study results have been published in the  Environmental Pollution  journal.

Reference

Bhaskar Reddy, Suresh Kumar Dubey, "River Ganges water as reservoir of microbes with antibiotic and metal ion resistance genes: High throughput metagenomic approach", Environmental Pollution, Volume 246, March 2019, DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.12.022

Source: India Science Wire

Recently, another research showed that Antibiotic Resistance Is Spreading from Wastewater Treatment Plants