Prevalence and concentrations of antibiotic resistant microbes and genes in Iowa streams and rivers

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Project Period: 
2019 to 2020
Collaborating Institution(s): 
Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination
US Geological Survey
Project Investigator(s): 
L Hubbard
D Kolpin
C Givens
R Lane
S Meppelink

The emergence of antibiotic resistance worldwide is one of the most serious global public health concerns of the 21st century and results in the reduction in efficacy of life saving antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally but is primarily accelerated due to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics by both humans and agriculture (e.g. livestock production). The objectives of this study are to 1) provide the first statewide assessment of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic resistant genes (ARG) in Iowa streams and rivers in multiple environmental compartments (i.e. water and bed sediment) and 2) to assess where and how many ARB and ARG are present in environmental stream systems across Iowa in order to better understand the risk of such contamination to human, livestock, and wildlife health. We propose to collect environmental samples at 28 stream locations across Iowa to represent livestock-impacted and urban wastewater-impacted watersheds and two minimally impacted (i.e. pseudo reference) sites to assess the “background” of ARB/ARG in Iowa stream systems for a total network of approximately 30 sites. A single round of water samples will be collected in the spring to capture runoff conditions and analyzed for ARB and ARG. In addition, bed sediment samples will also be collected where possible later in the summer. The laboratory antibiotic resistance approach is twofold using both molecular and culture-based methods to determine ARB and ARG. Analysis of the antibiotic samples will be pending on the ARB/ARG results and available funding.