Scientists have shown that elevated heavy metal levels in rivers can lead to higher levels of antibiotic resistance.
Research by Newcastle University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi quantified antibiotic and metal resistance in sediments from the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in India and streams in the River Tyne catchment. The results show heavy metals, which are high in the River Tyne catchment due to historic mining and industrial activity, relate to antibiotic resistance levels in the river. The same was seen in the Indian rivers, especially in areas of industrial activity.
Publishing their findings in the journal Environmental Pollution, the team investigated the relationships between heavy metals concentrations, metal resistance gene (MRG) and antibiotic resistance gene (ARG) abundances. The study shows that MRG and ARG abundances increase where metal levels are higher, suggesting reaches with metal pollution have increased antibiotic resistance, even when elevated antibiotics are not evident.
The results show that metal pollution also affects resident bacteria, with Firmicutes and Bacteroidota being the most abundant phyla at sites with high metal pollution. These bacteria are common in metal contaminated environments and are known to carry MRGs and ARGs in groups in “gene cassettes,” which explains why metal exposures can cause antibiotic resistance.
The study shows that specific metal combinations that promote the strongest bacterial responses are Cobalt plus Nickel, and the combination of Cobalt, Zinc and Cadmium.
Study co-author, Professor David Graham, of Newcastle University’s School of Engineering, said: “The work does not necessarily imply a health risk, but it shows that a river or stream without antibiotics pollution can still have elevated antibiotic resistance due to other pollutants, such as metals. However, in a river like the Yamuna, which has high metals in combination with many other pollutants, greater concerns about the spread of antibiotic resistance exist.”
Study lead author, Dr Sonia Gupta of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, said: “High metal exposure has the potential to co-select for antibiotic resistance in bacteria, making them potentially resistant to multiple antibiotics.”
Dr Gupta also noted: “The impacts of heavy metals-induced antibiotic resistance get exacerbated when high metal levels are combined with other pollutants such as antibiotics, detergents, and other chemicals, highlighting the importance of reducing heavy metal pollution as part of One Health solutions for reducing ARG transmission and spread.”
Antibiotic resistance, also called AMR, is major global public health issue that has implications on the effective treatment of a growing number of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. Antibiotic use selects for resistance strains in human and animal wastes, which can be released to the environment via wastewater, spreading ARGs and AMR bacteria across nature.
Sonia Gupta, David W. Graham, T.R. Sreekrishnan, Shaikh Ziauddin Ahammad. Effects of heavy metals pollution on the co-selection of metal and antibiotic resistance in urban rivers in UK and India. Environmental Pollution, 2022; 306: 119326 DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119326
Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, the University of São Paulo and UC Santa Cruz collaborated to discover and validate the enzymes responsible for the production ofone of the most toxic and fast-acting neurotoxins associated with freshwater harmful algal blooms in lakes and ponds.
The team combined genetic and biochemical studies to show how freshwater cyanobacteria produce the potent neurotoxin called guanitoxin. This discovery revealed that guanitoxin-producing cyanobacteria are more prevalent than originally known in the United States, opening the possibility for new molecular diagnostic testing to better inform and protect the public from this natural freshwater toxin. Findings were described in a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on May 18, 2022.
The paper also “shows guanitoxin being produced in freshwater bodies that have undergone past very toxic events,” said study lead author Stella Lima, a former PhD student at the University of São Paulo and visiting scholar at Scripps Oceanography.
Guanitoxin is one of the most potent neurotoxins made by cyanobacteria that actually has a similar mechanism of action to pesticides and chemical warfare agents, said Timothy Fallon, a Scripps postdoctoral scientist in the laboratory of Scripps marine chemical biologist Bradley Moore, where Lima was a visiting scholar.
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) form in lakes and ponds when cyanobacteria, otherwise known as blue-green algae, become abundant. These freshwater HABs produce different cyanotoxins, which can harm nearby animals and people. Depending on the cyanotoxin involved, exposed people exhibit symptoms such as stomach pain, headache, vomiting, liver damage or neurological impairment, according to federal health officials. Over the years, many regions have declared emergencies and issued “do not drink” advisories. Pet and animal deaths have also been reported after the animals came in contact with affected water.
Freshwater HABs can cause myriad social and economic problems for communities and are a problematic public health issue, said Lima. Testing and monitoring for certain cyanotoxins, such as microcystin, cylindrospermopsin, saxitoxin and anatoxin-a, occur because methods are available to do so, but despite the fact that guanitoxin is the second most toxic cyanotoxin, “no one’s looking for it” because the right methods aren’t available for detection and monitoring, Lima added.
As a PhD student in 2016, Lima found a set of genes she suspected was responsible for making guanitoxin by a cyanobacterium isolated from a large freshwater bloom in Brazil. The strain was isolated from the Tapacurá reservoir in Pernambuco, Brazil and has been maintained and cultivated by Marli Fiore, Lima’s former PhD advisor and co-author of the study
After this discovery, Lima looked for a partnership to confirm her suspicion. So, in 2018 she traveled to UC San Diego to work with Moore, who had established the first biochemical studies on guanitoxin back in the early 1990s. The team of scientists worked together to establish the precise functions of all nine enzymes that convert an ordinary amino acid to a neurotoxin, Lima said.
After discovering the genes involved in the production of guanitoxin and carefully validating their functions, researchers searched through thousands of samples from publically available environmental data for the guanitoxin biosynthetic genes.
The researchers were able to detect toxin genes for guanitoxin in environmental hotspots in the United States in populated areas, said Moore, who is a co-corresponding author of the study. The two areas of concern, where the toxin genes were regularly detected for guanitoxin, were in Lake Erie near Toledo, Ohio and in Lake Mendota, Wisconsin.Other areas of detection include the Amazon River in Brazil, the Columbia River in Oregon and the Delaware River in Delaware.
“We found these genes in lots of different fresh water sources, but nobody has looked for or monitored for this particular toxin environmentally,” said Shaun McKinnie, a chemistry and biochemistry assistant professor at UC Santa Cruz and former postdoctoral scholar in the Moore Lab, who contributed to the study.
“Here’s this neurotoxic potential in these lakes that people use recreationally, but this toxin has gone under the radar until our work,” Fallon said.
Moore said follow-up work should include fieldwork to detect other areas where guanitoxin may be produced.
Cyanobacterial blooms are becoming more and more prevalent in the United States and worldwide, mostly because of climate change and the introduction of fertilizers and other chemicals related to farming into bodies of water.
While HABs can be visible on the surface of freshwater bodies, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states “cyanotoxins can be present before and after blooms are visible. Therefore, it is recommended that cyanotoxin levels be confirmed through laboratory testing of the water.”
“Now that we figured out the guanitoxin pathway at the genomic level, we can also give additional pieces of information to say: ‘This is a safe body of water, or this is a less safe body of water; Does this have the ability to become toxic and can we predict toxic events?'” McKinnie said.
The researchers have filed a provisional patent application based on the concept of using the guanitoxin biosynthetic gene sequences they identified in the lab and applying molecular diagnostics using those sequences to find the genes in the environment.
In addition to Lima, Fallon, Moore, Fiore, and McKinnie, other study co-authors include Endrews Delbaje, Ernani Pinto and Felipe Dörr from the University of São Paulo; former Moore Lab scientist Hanna Luhavaya; current Scripps Oceanography PhD student Steffaney Wood; UC Santa Cruz researchers Jennifer Cordoza, Austin Hopiavuori, and Jackson Baumgartner; Jonathon Chekan from University of North Carolina Greensboro; Danillo Alvarenga from the University of Copenhagen; and Augusto Etchegaray from the Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas in Brazil.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Sao Paulo Research Foundation, and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development. Other funding was from the Simons Foundation Fellowship of the Life Sciences Research Foundation; the Brazilian Federal Agency for the Support Evaluation of Graduate Education; startup funding and a Faculty Research Grant from UC Santa Cruz.
Stella T. Lima, Timothy R. Fallon, Jennifer L. Cordoza, Jonathan R. Chekan, Endrews Delbaje, Austin R. Hopiavuori, Danillo O. Alvarenga, Steffaney M. Wood, Hanna Luhavaya, Jackson T. Baumgartner, Felipe A. Dörr, Augusto Etchegaray, Ernani Pinto, Shaun M. K. McKinnie, Marli F. Fiore, Bradley S. Moore. Biosynthesis of Guanitoxin Enables Global Environmental Detection in Freshwater Cyanobacteria. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2022; DOI: 10.1021/jacs.2c01424
The precise impact on Aqua customers is not known because the Bryn Mawr utility, a subsidiary of Essential Utilities Inc., has not yet filed its formal tariff that spells out new charges for various rate zones across Pennsylvania. The new rates could go into effect as early as Thursday. An Aqua spokesperson said Tuesday that the company would file its tariff “later this week.”
Most Aqua residential customer using 4,000 gallons a month currently pay $69.35 for water and $55.51 for wastewater. Most Aqua customers receive only water service.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Conservation groups in Florida sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for not doing enough to keep water pollution from killing off marine life.
Save the Manatee Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and Defenders of Wildlife filed the lawsuit Tuesday, claiming the current water quality played a role in more than 1,000 manatee deaths in 2021. Earthjustice is representing the groups in the lawsuit, which was filed in the Middle District of Florida.
“Most of those coming from the Indian River Lagoon, where these gentle giants are starving to death because nutrient pollution has destroyed their home and their food source,” said Ragan Whitlock, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity in St. Petersburg.
The groups claim the EPA’s current water quality standards from 2013 just aren’t enough. According to a release from the groups, the goal of the lawsuit is to push “the court to require EPA to reinitiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service under the Endangered Species Act to reassess its approval of Florida’s water quality standards for the Indian River Lagoon.”
“We have to change how many nutrients and what the load is that we’re allowed to dump into our bays and our waterways,” said Whitlock.
Deaths from fossil fuel burning and lead poisoning have risen by 66 percent in the past two decades
In 2015, 1 in 6 deaths worldwide stemmed from poor air quality, unsafe water and toxic chemical pollution. That deadly toll — 9 million people each year — has continued unabated through 2019, killing more people than war, terrorism, road injuries, malaria, drugs and alcohol.
The new findings, released Tuesday by the Lancet Planetary Health journal,shows that pollution continues to be the world’s largest environmental health threat for disease and premature deaths, with more the 90 percent of these deaths taking place in low- and middle-income countries.
Richard Fuller, the report’s lead author, said in an interview that “a lack of attention” accounts for why this grim tally continues unabated.
“There’s not much of an outcry around pollution … even though, clearly, 9 million people dying a year is an enormous issue to be concerned about,” he said.
NEW DELHI: Water scarcity in the national capital has aggravated due to a consistent drop in the Yamuna‘s levels at Wazirabad barrage, leading to a shortage of nearly 60 million gallons per day (MGD) at treatment plants that is affecting more than three lakh households, according to Delhi Jal Board (DJB) officials.
The government has issued a water shortage alert in 28 assem ..
California is facing a crisis. Not only are its reservoirs already at critically low levels due to unrelenting drought, residents and businesses across the state are also using more water now than they have in seven years, despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts to encourage just the opposite.
Newsom has pleaded with residents and businesses to reduce their water consumption by 15%. But in March, urban water usage was up by 19% compared to March 2020, the year the current drought began. It was the highest March water consumption since 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board reported earlier this week.
Part of the problem is that the urgency of the crisis isn’t breaking through to Californians. The messaging around water conservation varies across different authorities and jurisdictions, so people don’t have a clear idea of what applies to whom. And they certainly don’t have a tangible grasp on how much a 15% reduction is with respect to their own usage.
Kelsey Hinton, the communications director of Community Water Center, a group advocating for affordable access to clean water, said that urban communities — which typically get water from the state’s reservoirs — don’t seem to understand the severity of the drought in the way that rural communities do, where water could literally stop flowing out of the tap the moment their groundwater reserves are depleted.
Across the globe, reports of debilitating droughts are reaching all-time highs and the demand for water is ever-growing. What does that mean for the agriculture industry, the largest user of the global water supply?
According to a new study published in the American Geophysical Union journal Earth’s Future, it means a major increase in water scarcity problems. Researchers predict that, by 2050, agricultural water scarcity across the world’s croplands will increase by more than 80 percent.
Researchers predict that shifting precipitation patterns and evaporation due to rising temperatures will cause about 16 percent of global croplands to experience water scarcity due to changes in available green water—or water within the soil.
The study is unique in that it developed an index that accounts for agriculture’s two main water sources: green water, the portion of rainwater that is available to plants in the soil; and blue water, which is irrigation water taken from rivers, lakes and groundwater. The final prediction is the first comprehensive, worldwide index to look at how climate change will gravely impact the future scarcity of both water sources as opposed to focusing on only one.
Journalists reporting on the status and future of the Colorado River are increasingly using the phrase “dead pool.” It sounds ominous. And it is.
Dead pool occurs when water in a reservoir drops so low that it can’t flow downstream from the dam. The biggest concerns are Lake Powell, behind Glen Canyon Dam on the Utah-Arizona border, and Lake Mead, behind Boulder Canyon Dam on the Nevada-Arizona border. These two reservoirs, the largest in the U.S., provide water for drinking and irrigation and hydroelectricity to millions of people in Nevada, Arizona and California.
Some media reports incorrectly define dead pool as the point at which a dam no longer has enough water to generate hydroelectricity. The more accurate term for that situation is the minimum power pool elevation.
As a 22-year drought in the Colorado River basin lingers, reaching minimum power pool elevation is the first problem. Lakes Powell and Mead have turbines at the bases of their dams, well below the surface of the reservoirs. Water flows through valves in intake towers in the reservoirs and is channeled through the turbines, making them spin to generate electricity.
(CNN)China’s Zhurong rover has found evidence suggesting that water persisted on Mars for much longer than expected.
Zhurong landed in a large plain in Mars’ northern hemisphere called Utopia Planitia on May 15, 2021 — where NASA’s Viking 2 lander touched down in 1976.
The rover’s primary mission, which lasted for three months, was to search for signs of ancient life. It has investigated the minerals, environment and distribution of water and ice in the plain, which is all part of the largest impact basin in the Martian northern lowlands. The rover continues to explore its landing site and send information back to the Tianwen-1 orbiter circling the planet.
Data returned from the rover’s initial survey of the basin suggests that the Utopia Planitia basin contained water during a time when many scientists believed Mars to be dry and cold.
A study detailing the findings published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.