In this study, the abilities of two anaerobic digestion processes used for sewage sludge stabilization were compared for their ability to reduce the quantities of three genes that encode resistance to tetracycline (tet(A), tet(O), and tet(X)) and one gene involved with integrons (intI1). A two-stage, thermophilic/mesophilic digestion process always resulted in significant decreases in the quantities of tet(X) and intI1, less frequently in decreases of tet(O), and no net decrease in tet(A). The thermophilic stage was primarily responsible for reducing the quantities of these genes, while the subsequent mesophilic stage sometimes caused a rebound in their quantities. In contrast, a conventional anaerobic digestion process rarely caused a significant decrease in the quantities of any of these genes, with significant increases occurring more frequently. Our results demonstrate that anaerobic thermophilic treatment was more efficient in reducing quantities of genes associated with the spread of antibiotic resistance compared to mesophilic digestion.
- Anaerobic digestion
- Antibiotic resistance
- Municipal wastewater treatment
- Tetracycline resistance