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The concentrations of tetracycline-intermediate resistant, tetracycline-resistant heterotrophic bacteria, and total heterotrophic bacteria were examined to assess the influence of tetracycline on tetracycline-resistant heterotrophs by the R2A agar cultivation method in the tetracycline fortified activated sludge process and in the natural background. Results showed that the percentages of both tetracycline-intermediate resistant and tetracycline-resistant heterotrophic bacteria in total heterotrophic bacteria were significantly increased, after tetracycline was fed to activated sludge for a 3 months period under four different operating conditions, as compared with the background. In order to investigate the mechanism of activated sludge resistance to tetracycline, polymerase chain reaction experiments were carried out to analyze the existence and evolution of tet genes in the presence of tetracycline. Results revealed that only tet A and tet B genes out of the 11 target tet genes were observed in tetracycline treated activated sludge while no tet gene was detected in background. This indicated that tet A gene could accumulate in activated sludge with slower and continuous influent, while the accumulation of tet B gene could be attributed to shorter hydraulic retention time. Therefore, it was proposed in this study that tetracycline-resistant genes created by efflux pumps spread earlier and quicker to encode resistance to tetracycline, which facilitated the increase in tetracycline-resistance.


Jie Yu, Dongfang Liu, Kexun Li. Influence of tetracycline on tetracycline-resistant heterotrophs and tet genes in activated sludge process. Current microbiology. 2015 Mar;70(3):415-22

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PMID: 25424345

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