Wastewater treatment plants have become hotspots for the development of antibiotic resistance. Image courtesy of Wikimedia user Annabel.

Wastewater treatment plants have become hotspots for the development of antibiotic resistance. Image courtesy of Wikimedia user Annabel.

By XiaoZhi Lim
Chemical & Engineering News

Wastewater treatment plants have become hotspots for the development of antibiotic resistance. There, surrounded by traces of antibiotics and other adversaries, large numbers of bacteria mingle and trade genes, including those for antibiotic resistance, and rapidly evolve into hardier strains. To reduce the spread of this resistance, wastewater treatment methods must eliminate not only bacteria but also antibiotic-resistance genes—floating free as fragments of DNA from broken cells—that can confer resistance onto living bacteria when they meet, says Yunkun Wang, a membrane scientist at Shandong University.

Now, Wang and Menachem Elimelech at Yale University have made a photocatalytic membrane that filters out and destroys bacteria and antibiotic-resistance genes upon exposure to ultraviolet light (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2018, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b01888). In tests, the membrane killed 99.9% of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and inactivated from 20% to over 90% of various antibiotic-resistance genes in wastewater samples.

 

Continue reading at Chemical & Engineering News. Originally published on July 20, 2018.

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