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Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering >> 2018, Volume 12, Issue 2 doi: 10.1007/s11783-017-0986-7

Transport of antibiotic resistance plasmids in porous media and the influence of surfactants

. Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.. Department of Crops and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA

Available online: 2017-08-23

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Transport of engineered antibiotic resistance plasmids in porous media has been reported to potentially cause significant spreading of antibiotic resistance in the environment. In this work, transport of an indigenous resistance plasmid pK5 in porous media was investigated through packed column experiments. At identical ionic strengths in CaCl solutions, the breakthroughs of pK5 from soil columns were very close to those from quartz sand columns, indicating that transport of pK5 in quartz sand and soil was similar. A similarity in transport behavior was also found between pK5 and an engineered plasmid pBR322 that has approximately the same number of base pairs as pK5. The influence of surfactants, a major group of constituents in soil solutions, was examined using an engineered plasmid pcDNA3.1(+)/myc-His A. The impact of an anionic surfactant, sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), was negligible at concentrations up to 200 mg·L . Cetyltrimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB), a cationic surfactant, was found to significantly enhance plasmid adsorption at high concentrations. However, at environmentally relevant concentrations (<1 mg·L ), the effect of this surfactant was also minimal. The negligible impact of surfactants and the similarity between the transport of engineered and indigenous plasmids indicate that under environmentally relevant conditions, indigenous plasmids in soil also have the potential to transport over long distances and lead to the spreading of antibiotic resistance.

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