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Heavy metal pollution can increase antibiotic resistance in rivers

Heavy metal pollution can increase antibiotic resistance in rivers

6 May 2022

Research by Newcastle University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi quantified antibiotic and metal resistance in sediments from the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in India and streams in the River Tyne catchment.

The results show heavy metals, which are high in the River Tyne catchment due to historic mining and industrial activity, relate to antibiotic resistance levels in the river. The same was seen in the Indian rivers, especially in areas of industrial activity.

Publishing their findings in the journal Environmental Pollution, the team investigated the relationships between heavy metals concentrations, metal resistance gene (MRG) and antibiotic resistance gene (ARG) abundances. The study shows that MRG and ARG abundances increase where metal levels are higher, suggesting reaches with metal pollution have increased antibiotic resistance, even when elevated antibiotics are not evident.

river bed and aterfall