Fungal treatment for the removal of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes in veterinary hospital wastewater

D. Lucas, M. Badia-Fabregat, T. Vicent, G. Caminal, S. Rodríguez-Mozaz, J. L. Balcázar, D. Barceló

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62 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. The emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance represents one of the most important public health concerns and has been linked to the widespread use of antibiotics in veterinary and human medicine. The overall elimination of antibiotics in conventional wastewater treatment plants is quite low; therefore, residual amounts of these compounds are continuously discharged to receiving surface waters, which may promote the emergence of antibiotic resistance. In this study, the ability of a fungal treatment as an alternative wastewater treatment for the elimination of forty-seven antibiotics belonging to seven different groups (β-lactams, fluoroquinolones, macrolides, metronidazoles, sulfonamides, tetracyclines, and trimethoprim) was evaluated. 77% of antibiotics were removed after the fungal treatment, which is higher than removal obtained in conventional treatment plants. Moreover, the effect of fungal treatment on the removal of some antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) was evaluated. The fungal treatment was also efficient in removing ARGs, such as ermB (resistance to macrolides), tetW (resistance to tetracyclines), blaTEM (resistance to β-lactams), sulI (resistance to sulfonamides) and qnrS (reduced susceptibility to fluoroquinolones). However, it was not possible to establish a clear link between concentrations of antibiotics and corresponding ARGs in wastewater, which leads to the conclusion that there are other factors that should be taken into consideration besides the antibiotic concentrations that reach aquatic ecosystems in order to explain the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-308
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Antibiotic resistance genes
  • Antibiotics
  • Degradation
  • Fungal treatment
  • Veterinary hospital
  • Wastewater


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