Antibiotic Resistance Bacteria in Reused Water

Project ID: 1744
Principal Investigator: Jacque Keele
Research Topic: Desalination and Water Treatment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2017, 2018 and 2019
Keywords: None

Research Question

Drug resistant bacteria are a topic of grave concern to everyone. With the advent of antibiotics, bacterial diseases were treatable. But at the same time, bacteria have been able to develop resistance to antibiotics. This has resulted in a arms race between the microbial world and humans. Over the last few years, the presence of multi-drug resistant bacteria have emerged as a threat to human health world wide. One issue is that antibiotics are used in the production of food animals, and large quantities of these drugs are used and then released into the environment. The presence of trace antibiotics in the environment leads to the selection of bacteria that are resistant to the drugs. The goal of this project is to perform a literature review on the impact of antibiotics in the environment and the technologies that water reuse facilities use to remove antibiotics from recycled water. In addition, a database of known antibiotic resistance genes and the molecular detection methods for these genes will be created. Finally, water samples will be collected from several Reclamation sites and tested for the presence of antibiotic resistance genes and antibiotic concentrations. Reclamations Detection Laboratory for Exotic Species (RDLES) receives water samples from across the Western United States and these samples can be surveyed for the presence of drug resistant bacterial genes. The impact of drug resistance genes and bacteria on the environment is a major issue that has serious implications for human, animal, and plant health. With drought conditions and a growing population in the Western United States, water reuse is a solution that can help meet water requirements. The presence of antibiotics and drug resistant bacteria in reused water is a issue that has to be addressed if water reuse can meets its full potential.

Need and Benefit

Need: Reclamation needs to understand the biological contaminates that are present in water. The analysis of water for the presence of drug resistance genes will be done on water samples from several Reclamation waters. Currently, the RDLES Laboratory does not analyze for these genes. Have the ability to do do will increase the laboratories capabilities. These genes could serve as a indicator of water quality/health.
Benefit: By increasing RDLES capabilities, the laboratory will be able to perform this analysis for other Reclamation researchers and also outside researchers.
Urgency: In the coming years, water reuse will become a major source of water for the Western United States. Its use in agriculture and also as a possible potable water source will continue to grow. The presence of drug resistant bacteria and the genes that cause resistance in water is of great concern because of the human, animal, and plant health impacts. Reclamation is the major mover of water in the Western United States and it is important to understand the implications of antibiotic drug resistance and its impacts on the environment.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Antibiotic Resistance Bacteria in Reused Water (final, PDF, 439KB)
By Yale Passamaneck
Research Product completed on September 30, 2019

This research product summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20