Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Antibiotic contamination a threat to humans and the environment

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, spend August in Sisimiut on the west coast of Greenland studying the prevalence of antibiotic resistance and the effects of antibiotic emissions on communities of bacteria living in marine sediments. More specifically, they were investigating how communities of bacteria in sediment and clay on the seabed are affected by exposure to antibiotics.
“We know very little about what happens to antibiotics that end up in the ocean, but several substances can accumulate in sediments where biodegradation occurs extremely slowly,” says researcher Maria Granberg.

More than 10,000 tonnes of antibiotics are consumed in Europe each year, and 30-60% pass through animals and humans completely unchanged. The different substances then reach the ocean via hospitals, municipal sewage, fish farms and run-off from agriculture and landfills.

The research group from the University of Gothenburg are focusing on the potential effects of accumulating antibiotics in the seabed.

“Our aim is to document the sea’s natural microbial structure and function as well as resistance patterns, so that we can determine if and in what way things change as a result of human activity,” says Maria Granberg.

Greenland is home not only to areas of very clean water, the like of which just does not exist in Sweden, but also highly polluted water. As such, it is an excellent location for studying environmental impacts.

“Greenland has no sewage treatment whatsoever, which means that waste water from inhabited areas is discharged straight into the sea,” says Maria Granberg. “So Greenland is home to both very clean and very polluted waters, which is great for comparing environmentally pristine areas with polluted ones”

The soft sediments on the seabed act as a reservoir for hard-to-break-down substances that are released into the environment. Even substances that are not discharged directly into the sea gradually find their way there from the land and air via rainwater. This means that antibiotics can affect marine sediment ecosystems over a long period, with detrimental effects on natural marine communities of bacteria, among other things.

“The presence of antibiotics in the marine environment is worrying as it can result in widespread resistance to antibiotics in marine bacteria with unknown consequences for the spread of resistance genes to bacteria that can reach humans through the consumption of seafood and fish.”

The marine sediment bacteria being studied are also important from a global perspective as they metabolise both nitrogen and carbon, which are linked to both eutrophication and climate problems. A key aspect is also that resistance genes can be transferred between bacteria.

“We know very little about how antibiotics affect natural systems and how antibiotic resistance develops and spreads in these systems,” says Maria Granberg. “This knowledge is, however, vital if we are to identify the sources of, and understand, the mechanisms behind the development of antibiotic resistance, which constitutes a threat to both the functioning of ecosystems and human health.”

This year’s research trip was a collaboration between the Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences and the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy, the Department of Arctic Technology at the Technical University of Denmark and the Research Station Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil in Switzerland.
Maria Granberg, +46 766 229 534,
Carl Johan Svensson, +46 702 999 569,

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>