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Toxicological effects of nanoplastics have been demonstrated in a variety of organisms, yet their impacts on bacteria, especially on the antibiotic resistance evolution remain under explored. Herein, we report individual and combined effects of nano-polystyrene (nano-PS) and erythromycin (ERY) on growth and resistance mutations of Escherichia coli. The toxicity of nano-PS was dependent on size and functional modifications, with 30 nm and amino-modified PS (PS-NH2, 200 nm) showing the greatest toxicity. Adsorption of nano-PS onto bacterial surface and the subsequent increase of intracellular ROS or the probable mechanical damage were considered as the primary toxic mechanisms. Furthermore, nano-PS increased the bacterial resistance mutations, which was due to the oxidative damage to DNA and the SOS response. In addition, PS-NH2 presented synergistic effects with ERY while non-modified PS had no impact, although both of them showed adsorption capacity to ERY. This was likely because the positively charged PS-NH2 acted as a carrier of ERY and enhanced the interactions between ERY and the bacteria. Our findings raised the concerns about the risk of nanoplastics in accelerating the bacterial resistance evolution, and highlighted the necessity of including combined effects of nanoplastics and co-contaminants in risk assessment. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Qing Ning, Dali Wang, Jiahui An, Qi Ding, Zhiyi Huang, Yue Zou, Fan Wu, Jing You. Combined effects of nanosized polystyrene and erythromycin on bacterial growth and resistance mutations in Escherichia coli. Journal of hazardous materials. 2022 Jan 15;422:126858

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PMID: 34419845

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