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Multidrug-resistant bacteria and microbial communities

In a river estuary with fragmented suburban waste management

27 November 2020

Authors: Jia Yee Ho, Mui-Choo Jong, Kishor Acharya, Sylvia Sue Xian Liew, Daniel R. Smith, Zainura Zainon Noor, Michaela L. Goodson, David Werner, David W. GrahamJeyanthy Eswaran

River systems in developing and emerging countries are often fragmented relative to land and waste management in their catchment. The impact of inconsistent waste management and releases is a major challenge in water quality management. To examine how anthropogenic activities and estuarine effects impact water quality, we characterised water conditions, in-situ microbiomes, profiles of faecal pollution indicator, pathogenic and antibiotic resistant bacteria in the River Melayu, Southern Malaysia. Overall, upstream sampling locations were distinguished from those closer to the coastline by physicochemical parameters and bacterial communities. The abundances of bacterial DNA, total E. coli marker genes, culturable bacteria as well as antibiotic resistance ESBL-producing bacteria were elevated at upstream sampling locations especially near discharge of a wastewater oxidation pond. Furthermore, 85.7% of E. faecalis was multidrug-resistant (MDR), whereas 100% of E. cloacae, E. coli, K. pneumoniae were MDR. Overall, this work demonstrates how pollution in river estuaries does not monotonically change from inland towards the coast but varies according to local waste releases and tidal mixing. We also show that surrogate markers, such dissolved oxygen, Bacteroides and Prevotella abundances, and the rodA qPCR assay for total E. coli, can identify locations on a river that deserve immediate attention to mitigate AMR spread through improved waste management.

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