Wastewater treatment plants are important reservoirs and sources for the dissemination of antibiotic resistance into the environment. Here, two different groups of carbapenem resistant bacteria—the potentially environmental and the potentially pathogenic—were isolated from both the wastewater influent and discharged effluent of a full-scale wastewater treatment plant and characterized by whole genome sequencing and antibiotic susceptibility testing. Among the potentially environmental isolates, there was no detection of any acquired antibiotic resistance genes, which supports the idea that their resistance mechanisms are mainly intrinsic. On the contrary, the potentially pathogenic isolates presented a broad diversity of acquired antibiotic resistance genes towards different antibiotic classes, especially β-lactams, aminoglycosides, and fluoroquinolones. All these bacteria showed multiple β-lactamase-encoding genes, some with carbapenemase activity, such as the blaKPC-type genes found in the Enterobacteriaceae isolates. The antibiotic susceptibility testing assays performed on these isolates also revealed that all had a multi-resistance phenotype, which indicates that the acquired resistance is their major antibiotic resistance mechanism. In conclusion, the two bacterial groups have distinct resistance mechanisms, which suggest that the antibiotic resistance in the environment can be a more complex problematic than that generally assumed.
- Antibiotic resistance
- Discharged effluents
- Environmental and pathogenic carbapenem resistant bacteria
- Wastewater treatment plants