Link to HAL – unilim-04179307
Link to DOI – 10.1016/j.watres.2023.120408
Water Research, In press, pp.120408. ⟨10.1016/j.watres.2023.120408⟩
Understanding the dynamics of antibiotic resistance gene (ARG) transfer and dissemination in natural environments remains challenging. Biofilms play a crucial role in bacterial survival and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) dissemination in natural environments, particularly in aquatic systems. This study focused on hospital and urban wastewater (WW) biofilms to investigate the potential for ARG dissemination through mobile genetic elements (MGEs). The analysis included assessing the biofilm extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), microbiota composition as well as metatranscriptomic profiling of the resistome and mobilome. We produced both in vitro and in situ biofilms and performed phenotypic and genomic analyses. In the in vitro setup, untreated urban and hospital WW was used to establish biofilm reactors, with ciprofloxacin added as a selective agent at minimal selective concentration. In the in situ setup, biofilms were developed directly in hospital and urban WW pipes. We first showed that a) the composition of EPS differed depending on the growth environment (in situ and in vitro) and the sampling origin (hospital vs urban WW) and that b) ciprofloxacin impacted the composition of the EPS. The metatranscriptomic approach showed that a) expression of several ARGs and MGEs increased upon adding ciprofloxacin for biofilms from hospital WW only and b) that the abundance and type of plasmids that carried individual or multiple ARGs varied depending on the WW origins of the biofilms. When the same plasmids were present in both, urban and hospital WW biofilms, they carried different ARGs. We showed that hospital and urban wastewaters shaped the structure and active resistome of environmental biofilms, and we confirmed that hospital WW is an important hot spot for the dissemination and selection of antimicrobial resistance. Our study provides a comprehensive assessment of WW biofilms as crucial hotspots for ARG transfer. Hospital WW biofilms exhibited distinct characteristics, including higher eDNA abundance and expression levels of ARGs and MGEs, highlighting their role in antimicrobial resistance dissemination. These findings emphasize the importance of understanding the structural, ecological, functional, and genetic organization of biofilms in anthropized environments and their contribution to antibiotic resistance dynamics.