Chemosphere. 2019 Dec;237:124421. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.124421. Epub 2019 Jul 20.
Antibiotics in the effluents of municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) may create selective pressures to induce antibiotic resistance in bacteria downstream. This study evaluates ciprofloxacin (CIP) removal by a freshwater alga, Scenedesmus dimorphus, to assess the efficacy of algae-based tertiary treatment in reducing effluent-induced CIP resistance. Results show significant CIP removal in light-exposed samples without algae and experimental algae (EA) samples: 53% and 93%, respectively, over 144 h. A residual antibiotic potency assay reveals that untreated CIP is significantly more growth-inhibiting to a model bacterium (Escherichia coli) than the algae-treated and light-exposed samples during short exposures (6 h). Adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE), again using E. coli, reveals that treated samples exhibit reduced capacity to elicit CIP resistance during sustained exposures compared to untreated CIP. Finally, observed CIP resistance in the CIP-exposed ALE lineages is corroborated via genotype characterization, which reveals the presence of resistance-associated mutations in gyrase subunit A (gyrA) that are not present in ALE lineages exposed to algae treated or light-exposed samples. As such, algae-mediated tertiary treatment could be effective in suppressing CIP resistance in bacterial communities downstream from WWTP. In addition, ALE is useful for assessing the potential of wastewater-relevant samples to elicit antibiotic resistance downstream.