New findings by civil engineering researchers in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering shows that treating municipal wastewater solids at higher temperatures may be an effective tool in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Heating the solid waste to 130 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius) was particularly effective in eliminating the genes that confer antibiotic resistance. These genes are used by bacteria to become resistant to multiple antibiotics, which are then known as "superbacteria" or "superbugs."
The research paper was recently published in Environmental Science & Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society and highlighted in the society's weekly magazine Chemical & Engineering News.
Antibiotics are used to treat numerous bacterial infections, but the ever-increasing presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has raised substantial concern about the future effectiveness of antibiotics.
"The current scientific paradigm is that antibiotic resistance is primarily caused by antibiotic use, which has led to initiatives to restrict antibiotic prescriptions and curtail antibiotic use in agriculture," said civil engineering associate professor Timothy LaPara, an expert in both wastewater treatment and microbiology who led the new University of Minnesota study. "Our research is one of the first studies that considers a different approach to thwarting the spread of antibiotic resistance by looking at the treatment of municipal wastewater solids."
Antibiotic resistant bacteria develop in the gastrointestinal tracts of people taking antibiotics. These bacteria are then shed during defecation, which is collected by the existing sewer infrastructure and passed through a municipal wastewater treatment facility. The majority of wastewater treatment plants incubate the solid waste, called sludge, in a "digester" that decomposes organic materials. Digesters are often operated at 95 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 37 degrees Celsius).
"Many digesters are operated at our body temperature, which is perfect for resistant bacteria to survive and maybe even grow," LaPara said.
Lab research by LaPara and his graduate student David Diehl shows that anaerobic digestion of municipal wastewater solids at high temperatures (as high as 130 degrees Fahrenheit or 55 degrees Celsius) is capable of destroying up to 99.9 percent of various genes that confer resistance in bacteria. In contrast, conventional anaerobic digestion (operated at 95 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit or about 37 degrees Celsius) demonstrated only a slight ability to eliminate the same set of genes.
"Our latest research suggests that high temperature anaerobic digestion offers a novel approach to slow the proliferation of antibiotic resistance." LaPara said. "This new method could be used in combination with other actions, like limiting the use of antibiotics, to extend the lifespan of these precious drugs."
LaPara also pointed out that raising the temperature of anaerobic digestion at wastewater treatment plants is not cost-prohibitive because the digesting bacteria produce methane gas that can be used to heat the reactor.
The Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund financially supported LaPara's recent research. LaPara has secured a grant from the National Science Foundation to continue his research examining other technologies to eliminate antibiotic-resistant bacteria in wastewater solids.
To view the most recent research report published in Environmental Science & Technology, visit http://z.umn.edu/lapara.
Rhonda Zurn | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Ferchau Engineering > Science TV > anaerobic digestion > antibiotic resistance > antibiotic-resistant bacteria > bacterial infection > chemical engineering > civil engineering > environmental risk > information technology > organic material > resistant bacteria > solid waste > treatment plan > treatment plants > wastewater treatment > wastewater treatment plants > water treatment > water treatment plants
Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides
16.07.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
The secret sulfate code that lets the bad Tau in
16.07.2018 | American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2018 | Life Sciences
16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences