Genomic surveillance of Escherichia coli in municipal wastewater treatment plants as an indicator of clinically relevant pathogens and their resistance genes

Kathy E. Raven, Catherine Ludden, Theodore Gouliouris, Beth Blane, Plamena Naydenova, Nicholas M. Brown, Julian Parkhill, Sharon Peacock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We examined whether genomic surveillance of Escherichia coli in wastewater could capture the dominant E. coli lineages associated with bloodstream infection and livestock in the East of England, together with the antibiotic-resistance genes circulating in the wider E. coli population. Treated and untreated wastewater was taken from 20 municipal treatment plants in the East of England, half in direct receipt of acute hospital waste. All samples were culture positive for E. coli, and all but one were positive for extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing E. coli. The most stringent wastewater treatment (tertiary including UV light) did not eradicate ESBL-E. coli in 2/3 cases. We sequenced 388 E. coli (192 ESBL, 196 non-ESBL). Multilocus sequence type (ST) diversity was similar between plants in direct receipt of hospital waste versus the remainder (93 vs 95 STs, respectively). We compared the genomes of wastewater E. coli with isolates from bloodstream infection (n=437), and livestock farms and retail meat (n=431) in the East of England. A total of 19/20 wastewater plants contained one or more of the three most common STs associated with bloodstream infection (ST131, ST73, ST95), and 14/20 contained the most common livestock ST (ST10). In an analysis of 1254 genomes (2 cryptic E. coli were excluded), wastewater isolates were distributed across the phylogeny and intermixed with isolates from humans and livestock. Ten blaCTX-M elements were identified in E. coli isolated from wastewater, together with a further 47 genes encoding resistance to the major antibiotic drug groups. Genes encoding resistance to colistin and the carbapenems were not detected. Genomic surveillance of E. coli in wastewater could be used to monitor new and circulating lineages and resistance determinants of public-health importance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobial Genomics
Volume5
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

Keywords

  • Escherichia coli
  • genomic surveillance
  • resistance
  • wastewater

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