Journal article

Inactivation of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria and Resistance Genes by Ozone: From Laboratory Experiments to Full-Scale Wastewater Treatment

Ozone, a strong oxidant and disinfectant, seems ideal to cope with future challenges of water treatment, such as micropollutants, multiresistant bacteria (MRB) and even intracellular antibiotic resistance genes (ARG), but information on the latter is scarce. In ozonation experiments we simultaneously determined kinetics and dose-dependent inactivation of Escherichia coli and its plasmid-encoded sulfonamide resistance gene sul1 in different water matrixes. Effects in E. coli were compared to an autochthonous wastewater community. Furthermore, resistance elimination by ozonation and post-treatment were studied in full-scale at a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Bacterial inactivation (cultivability, membrane damage) and degradation of sul1 were investigated using plate counts, flow cytometry and quantitative real-time PCR. In experiments with E. coli and the more ozone tolerant wastewater community disruption of intracellular genes was observed at specific ozone doses feasible for full-scale application, but flocs seemed to interfere with this effect. At the WWTP, regrowth during postozonation treatment partly compensated inactivation of MRB, and intracellular sul1 seemed unaffected by ozonation. Our findings indicate that ozone doses relevant for micropollutant abatement from wastewater do not eliminate intracellular ARG.


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