Multidrug resistance phenotypes are widespread over different bacterial taxonomic groups thriving in surface water

Carlos Narciso-da-Rocha, Célia M. Manaia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


The environment is the original and most ancient source of the antibiotic resistance determinants that threat the human health nowadays. In the environment, water is a privileged habitat and mode of dissemination of bacteria of different origins. Freshwater bodies that cross urban areas are supposed to hold a complex mixture of both human/animal origin and strictly environmental bacteria. In this study, we were interested in unveiling the bacterial diversity in urban river transects and, simultaneously, investigate the occurrence of antibiotic resistant bacteria, in particular the multidrug resistant (MDR). With this aim, water and sediments of two rivers were sampled from an urban transect and the bacterial diversity was assessed based on 16S rRNA gene-based community analysis and, simultaneously, total heterotrophic bacteria were isolated in the presence and in the absence of antibiotics.The three predominant phyla were Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria, in water, or Acidobacteria, in sediments. MDR bacteria were observed to belong to the predominant phyla observed in water, mostly of the classes Gamma- and Betaproteobacteria (Proteobacteria) and Sphingobacteriia and Flavobacteriia (Bacteroidetes) and belonged to genera of ubiquitous (Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, Stenotrophomonas) or mainly environmental (Chitinophaga, Chryseobacterium) bacteria. The observation that MDR bacteria are widespread in the environment and over distinct phylogenetic lineages has two relevant implications: i) the potential of environmental bacteria as source or facilitators for antibiotic resistance acquisition; ii) the need to complement culture-independent methods with culture-based approaches in order to identify major sources of MDR profiles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • Bacterial diversity
  • Contaminant antibiotic resistance
  • Environmental bacteria
  • Natural antibiotic resistance


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