Sunlight Photolysis of Extracellular and Intracellular Antibiotic Resistance Genes tetA and sul2 in Photosensitizer-Free Water

Fiona B. Dunn, Andrea I. Silverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs; the genetic material in bacteria that encode for resistance to antibiotics) have been found in the aquatic environment, raising concerns of an environmental transmission route. In an effort to contribute to models predicting the fate of ARGs in the environment - to design control measures, predict health risks, inform ARG surveillance activities, and prioritize policy interventions - and given the importance of sunlight in damaging DNA, we evaluated the sunlight photolysis kinetics of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) and ARGs under laboratory conditions, focusing on Escherichia coli SMS-3-5 and its ARGs tetA and sul2. Experiments were conducted in the absence of photosensitizers, and ARG decay rates were quantified by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) with short and long amplicon targets. Long amplicon qPCR targets quantified greater photolysis rate constants, due to greater ARG coverage. After a lag phase, intracellular ARG had faster decay rates than extracellular ARG, likely due to the contribution of intracellular indirect photolysis processes. Furthermore, all ARG decay rates were significantly slower than those of E. coli. Decay rate constants and quantum yields are presented as foundational work in the development of models to describe the persistence of ARGs in sunlit, environmental waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11019-11028
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume55
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 17 2021

Keywords

  • antibiotic-resistant bacteria
  • direct photolysis
  • DNA decay
  • environmental persistence
  • quantum yield

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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