Reduction of erythromycin resistance gene erm(F) and class 1 integron-integrase genes in wastewater by Bardenpho treatment

Bradley W. Schmitz, Gabriel K. Innes, Jia Xue, Charles P. Gerba, Ian L. Pepper, Samendra Sherchan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Wastewaters routinely contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) and genes (ARG) that are removed to a varying degree during wastewater treatment. This study investigated the removal of the erythromycin ribosome methylase class F (erm(F)) and class 1 integron-integrase (intI1) genes at each stage from two water resource recovery facilities in southern Arizona. Although genes were significantly reduced by Bardenpho treatment, erm(F) and intI1 were still observed in ≥ 9 and 7 out of 12 secondary effluent samples. Primary processes via sedimentation or dissolved air flotation, as well as chlorine disinfection, did not significantly impact erm(F) and intI1 concentrations. Therefore, Bardenpho treatment was critical to reduce erm(F) and intI1. Concentrations of erm(F) and intI1 were compared with each other and other markers for anthropogenic pollution. Results from this study support intI1 as one suitable marker to measure erythromycin resistance genes in wastewater, as intI1 was found at higher concentrations, persisted more throughout treatment, and correlated with erm(F) at nearly every treatment stage. Practitioner points: Bardenpho treatment was the key process responsible for the reduction of intI1 and erm(F) genes during wastewater treatment. Primary treatment and chlorine disinfection did not impact erm(F) and intI1 gene concentrations. The intI1 gene is a suitable marker for measuring erm(F) genes in wastewater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1042-1050
Number of pages9
JournalWater Environment Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Bardenpho
  • antibiotic-resistant genes
  • erythromycin
  • integron-integrase
  • wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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