Presentation Title

The Effects of Biosolids on Antibiotic Resistance Gene Abundance and Diversity in Microbial Communities of Mine Tailing Reclamation Sites

Abstract

Mining requires chemical and mechanical methods to extract useful metals from the earth. Mine tailings are the material by-products of this process, and are usually placed into specific surface storage areas. The soil in these areas tend to contain sparse microbial communities and low nutrient content. Biosolids are a resource recovered from treatment of municipal wastewater. The final product is a material similar to soil that is rich in nutrients and organic matter. It can be used as an alternative to animal manures or chemical fertilizers. The production and use of biosolids in British Columbia are highly regulated and ongoing research continues to inform best practices for land application of biosolids. Some research suggests that biosolids and other soil amendments may promote the distribution and evolution of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in soils and that antibiotics already present in biosolids may induce antibiotic resistance gene spread. In this study, we quantified the levels of 23 ARGs in soil microbial communities in existing copper mine tailings treated with varying levels of biosolids and those with no biosolids treatments. DNA was extracted from 57 tailing soil samples and ARGs were quantified using quantitative Polymerase Chain Reactions (qPCRs). Most ARGs were below detection across all samples. Three ARGs (ermC, ermB, and mefA) were detected in higher prevalence in the biosolids treatments. The other four ARG targets (aadA1, veb, sfc1, and oxa54) were detected across biosolids and no biosolids treatments. The ARGs that were detected naturally occur in microbial communities. Thus, the increased prevalence in the biosolids treated samples may be related to the higher biomass that is established on those plots. Additional information acquired through further testing of the ARGs will help to improve understanding of potential risks associated with biosolids applications and inform policy on their future use in mine site remediation.

Department

Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Eric Bottos and Jonathan Van Hamme

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The Effects of Biosolids on Antibiotic Resistance Gene Abundance and Diversity in Microbial Communities of Mine Tailing Reclamation Sites

Mining requires chemical and mechanical methods to extract useful metals from the earth. Mine tailings are the material by-products of this process, and are usually placed into specific surface storage areas. The soil in these areas tend to contain sparse microbial communities and low nutrient content. Biosolids are a resource recovered from treatment of municipal wastewater. The final product is a material similar to soil that is rich in nutrients and organic matter. It can be used as an alternative to animal manures or chemical fertilizers. The production and use of biosolids in British Columbia are highly regulated and ongoing research continues to inform best practices for land application of biosolids. Some research suggests that biosolids and other soil amendments may promote the distribution and evolution of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in soils and that antibiotics already present in biosolids may induce antibiotic resistance gene spread. In this study, we quantified the levels of 23 ARGs in soil microbial communities in existing copper mine tailings treated with varying levels of biosolids and those with no biosolids treatments. DNA was extracted from 57 tailing soil samples and ARGs were quantified using quantitative Polymerase Chain Reactions (qPCRs). Most ARGs were below detection across all samples. Three ARGs (ermC, ermB, and mefA) were detected in higher prevalence in the biosolids treatments. The other four ARG targets (aadA1, veb, sfc1, and oxa54) were detected across biosolids and no biosolids treatments. The ARGs that were detected naturally occur in microbial communities. Thus, the increased prevalence in the biosolids treated samples may be related to the higher biomass that is established on those plots. Additional information acquired through further testing of the ARGs will help to improve understanding of potential risks associated with biosolids applications and inform policy on their future use in mine site remediation.