Determination of the Antibiotic and Antibiotic Resistance Footprint in Surface Water Environments of a Metropolitan Area: Effects of Anthropogenic Activities

Huan He, Irene Bueno, Taegyu Kim, Kristine H. Wammer, Timothy M. LaPara, Randall S. Singer, Amanda Beaudoin, William A. Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study investigated geospatial distributions of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in surface waters and their associations with anthropogenic activities. During July-October 2020, the concentrations of antibiotics (water and sediment) and ARGs (sediment) were measured at 39 sites in the Twin-Cities metropolitan area (Minnesota) that experience a gradient of impacts related to human activities. For water samples, the number of antibiotics detected and the concentrations of certain antibiotics (e.g., sulfonamides) positively correlated with urbanization indicators (e.g., urban percentage, population density, number of wastewater discharge points; ρ = 0.32-0.46, p = 0.003-0.04) and negatively correlated with undeveloped land indicators (e.g., forest; ρ = −0.34 to −0.62, p = <0.00001-0.04). Antibiotics in sediments exhibited geospatial distribution different from that in corresponding water samples and exhibited no associations with anthropogenic factors. Relative abundances of ARGs were not associated with anthropogenic factors, but several ARGs (e.g., blaoxa, mexB, and sul2) were inversely related to the organic content of sediments (ρ = −0.38 to -0.44, p = 0.01-0.04). Strong correlations were found among relative abundances of various ARGs and intI1 (ρ ≥ 0.67, p < 0.05), highlighting their co-occurrence in (sub)urban surface waters. These results identified promising anthropogenic/environmental factors for predicting antibiotic geospatial distributions and useful gene markers to monitor ARGs in surface waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-399
Number of pages13
JournalACS Environmental Science and Technology Water
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 10 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund (M.L. 2018, Chp. 214, Art. 4, Sec. 02, Subd. 04h) as recommended by the Legislative and Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. Dr. Matthew Berens and undergraduate students from the University of Minnesota (Wenjie Yuki Fan) and the University of Saint Thomas (Sarah J. Ziemann and Lauren Degn) are gratefully acknowledged for their assistance in water sampling and sample processing. Alex, Ben, and Lori Arnold, and Greg Wammer are thanked for their assistance with sediment collection. Researchers at the University of Minnesota Cancer Center Mass Spectrometry Facility (Dr. Peter Villalta, Dr. Jingfang Huang, Dr. Yingchun Zhao, and Makenzie Pillsbury) and the Limnological Research Center LacCore Facility (Jessica Heck and Maya Grantier) are sincerely acknowledged for their technical support in LC-MS/MS analysis and sediment processing, respectively.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society.


  • anthropogenic activities
  • antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs)
  • antibiotics
  • footprint
  • geospatial distribution
  • Spearman correlation

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • AAR


Dive into the research topics of 'Determination of the Antibiotic and Antibiotic Resistance Footprint in Surface Water Environments of a Metropolitan Area: Effects of Anthropogenic Activities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this