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First Author: LI Hu

Microplastics (MPs) serve as vectors for microorganisms and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and contribute to the spread of pathogenic bacteria and ARGs across various environments. Patterns of microbial communities and ARGs in the biofilm on the surface of MPs, also termed as plastisphere, have become an issue of global concern. Although antibiotic resistome in the plastisphere has been detected, how watershed urbanization affects patterns of potential pathogens and ARGs in the microplastic biofilms is still unclear. Here, we compared the bacterial communities, the interaction between bacterial taxa, pathogenic bacteria, and ARGs between the plastisphere and their surrounding water, and revealed the extensive influence of urbanization on them. Our results showed that bacterial communities and interactions in the plastisphere differed from those in their surrounding water. Microplastics selectively enriched Bacteroidetes from water. In non-urbanized area, the abundance of Oxyphotobacteria was significantly (p < 0.05) higher in plastisphere than that in water, while α-Proteobacteria was significantly (p < 0.05) higher in plastisphere than those in water of urbanized area. Pathogenic bacteria, ARGs, and mobile genetic elements (MGEs) were significantly (p < 0.05) higher in the urbanized area than those in non-urbanized area. MPs selectively enriched ARG-carrying potential pathogens, i.e., Klebsiella pneumoniae and Enterobacter cloacae, and exhibited a distinct effect on the relative abundance of ARG and pathogens in water with different urbanization levels. We further found ARGs were significantly correlated to MGEs and pathogenic bacteria. These results suggested that MPs would promote the dissemination of ARGs among microbes including pathogenic bacteria, and urbanization would affect the impact of MPs on microbes, pathogens, and ARGs in water. A high level of urbanization could enhance the enrichment of pathogens and ARGs by MPs in aquatic systems and increase microbial risk in aquatic environments. Our findings highlighted the necessity of controlling the spread of ARGs among pathogens and the usage of plastic products in ecosystems of urban areas.

Contact the author: LI Hu
Page Number: 120185
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PubYear: November 2022
Volume: 313
Publication Name: Environmental Pollution
The full text link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.120185