Journal Article Antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli strains isolated from Antarctic bird feces, water from inside a wastewater treatment plant, and seawater samples collected in the Antarctic Treaty area

10 ( 2 )  , pp.123 - 131 , 2016-06
Antibiotic resistance is a problem of global concern and is frequently associated with human activity. Studying antibiotic resistance in bacteria isolated from pristine environments, such as Antarctica, extends our understanding of these fragile ecosystems. Escherichia coli strains, important fecal indicator bacteria, were isolated on the Fildes Peninsula (which has the strongest human influence in Antarctica), from seawater, bird droppings, and water samples from inside a local wastewater treatment plant. The strains were subjected to molecular typing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis to determine their genetic relationships, and tested for antibiotic susceptibility with disk diffusion tests for several antibiotic families: β-lactams, quinolones, aminoglycosides, tetracyclines, phenicols, and trimethoprim–sulfonamide. The highest E. coli count in seawater samples was 2400 cfu/100 mL. Only strains isolated from seawater and the wastewater treatment plant showed any genetic relatedness between groups. Strains of both these groups were resistant to β-lactams, aminoglycosides, tetracycline, and trimethoprim–sulfonamide.In contrast, strains from bird feces were susceptible to all the antibiotics tested. We conclude that naturally occurring antibiotic resistance in E. coli strains isolated from Antarctic bird feces is rare and the bacterial antibiotic resistance found in seawater is probably associated with discharged treated wastewater originating from Fildes Peninsula treatment plants.

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