Antibiotic-resistant microbiota of water and soil ecosystems as risk factors for human health

  • T. Yu. Matylonok Zaporizhzhia State Medical University, Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine
  • O. Ye. Pakhomov Oles Honchar Dnipro National University, Dnipro, Ukraine
  • N. M. Polishchuck Zaporizhzhia State Medical University, Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine
Keywords: antibiotic resistance, resistance genes, environment, antibacterial drugs


Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is one of the three major health challenges of the 21st century. One of the most important reasons for the acquisition and spread of antibiotic resistance in the environment is the irrational and uncontrolled use of antibacterial drugs, not only for medical but also other purposes, and their improper disposal. The microbiome of aquatic and soil ecosystems is characterized by the acquisition of antibiotic resistance through mobile genetic elements, contact with antibacterial drugs and their residues, the action of heavy metals and environmental stress. Also, according to the literature, it is noted that the resistance of microorganisms to antibacterial drugs in the environment existed much earlier than in clinical strains. These facts can not help but worry, because antibiotic-resistant strains of the environment have an extremely negative impact on human health. Once in the human body with water and food, they significantly complicate and / or make it impossible to further treat life-threatening diseases. Also, antibacterial residues circulating in aquatic and soil ecosystems, entering the human body can cause cancer, allergic reactions or disruption of the natural intestinal microflora. These ecosystems are characterized by large-scale spread of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, antibacterial drugs and their residues. The aim of our work was to analyze with the help of theoretical methods of scientific research the reasons for the acquisition and spread of antibiotic resistance among environmental microbiota, namely in aquatic and soil ecosystems. To determine the impact of antibiotic-resistant bacteria of these ecosystems on human health. We have found that antibacterial drugs, antibiotic-resistant strains and resistance genes are a particular problem for wastewater treatment. Antibiotics can provide a selective load, as the mechanisms that break them down can promote resilience and selectively enrich. Wastewater treatment plants can be a favorable factor for the horizontal transfer of genes and the development of bacterial polyresistance, and high-resistance genes can be preserved even after disinfection. Soil is also an important reservoir for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and resistance genes. Microorganisms are in a constant struggle for existence in this ecosystem and try to colonize the micro-scale with the most favorable for their ecotype habitat. Antibiotic-resistant soil bacteria are in close contact with other members of the microbiota, which in turn promotes the horizontal transfer of resistance genes, even between cells of different species or genera through genetic determinants. Conclusion: ecosystems are characterized by large-scale spread of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, antibacterial drugs and their residues. Therefore, this problem should be properly addressed, as the presence of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, antibacterial drugs and their residues in the environment can cause unpredictable environmental consequences and adversely affect human health with more severe incurable infectious diseases. Monitoring programs for antibiotic-resistant microorganisms and resistance genes in soil and aquatic ecosystems are necessary and very relevant today. After all, this microbiota poses a serious threat to both the environment and human health and can easily spread from one part of the world around the world.


Amarasiri, M., Sano, D., Suzuki, S. (2020) Understanding human health risks caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARG) in water environments. Current knowledge and questions to be answered, Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 50(19), 2016–2059.

Anyanwu, M. U., Jaja, I. F., Nwobi, O. C. (2020). Occurrence and characteristics of mobile colistin resistance (mcr) gene-containing isolates from the environment: a review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17, 1028.

Baquero, F., Martínez, J. L., Cantón, R. (2008). Antibiotics and antibiotic resistance in water environments. Current opinion in biotechnology, 19(3), 260–265.

Belding, C., Boopathy, R. (2018). Presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes in coastal recreational waters of southeast Louisiana, USA //Journal of Water Supply: Research and Technology-AQUA, 67, 800–809.

Brevik, E. C., Slaughter, L., Singh, B. R., Steffan, J. J., Collier, D. (2020). Soil and Human Health: Current Status and Future Needs. Air, Soil and Water Research, 13, 1–23.

Cytryn, E., Markiewicz, Z., Popowska, M. (2017). Antibiotics and antibiotics resistance genes dissemination in soils. Antibiotics and Antibiotics Resistance Genes in Soils.  Springer, Cham,  151–190.

Ghernaout, D. (2020). Removing antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) carrying genes (ARGs): challenges and future trends. Open Access Library Journal, 7(1), 1.

Kunhikannan, S. Thomas, C., Franks, A., Mahadevaiah, S. (2021). Environmental hotspots for antibiotic resistance genes. MicrobiologyOpen. 10, 11941197.

Li, Q., Zhang, Q. (2020). Prevalence and pollution characteristics of antibiotic resistant genes in one high anthropogenically-impacted river. PLOS ONE, 15(4), e0231128.

Lykov, I., Kusacheva, S., Safronova, M., Loginova, A. (2020). Environmental Рollution by Рharmaceuticals. Ecology and Industry of Russia, 24(8), 5155 (in Russian).

Matalygina, O. A. (2020). Antibiotikorezistentnost kak shirokii i mnogogrannyi biologicheskii fenomen. Meditcina: teoriia i praktika, 5(3), 3944  (in Russian).

McCann, C. M. (2019). Understanding drivers of antibiotic resistance genes in High Arctic soil ecosystems. Environment international, 125, 497–504. 

Moghannem, S. A., Refaat, B., El-Sherbiny, G., El-Sayed, M., Elsehemy, I., Kalaba, M. H. (2015). Characterization of heavy metal and antibiotic-resistant bacteria isolated from polluted localities in Egypt. Egyptian Pharmaceutical Journal, 14, 158165.

Nath, S., Paul, P., Roy, R. (2019). Isolation and identification of metal-tolerant and antibiotic-resistant bacteria from soil samples of Cachar district of Assam, India. SN Appl. Sci., 1, 727. 

Nesme, J., Simonet, P. (2015). The soil resistome: a critical review on antibiotic resistance origins, ecology and dissemination potential in telluric bacteria. Environmental microbiology, 17(4), 913–930.

Orlewska, K., Markowicz, A., Piotrowska-Seget, Z., Smoleń-Dzirba, J., Cycoń, M. (2018). Functional Diversity of Soil Microbial Communities in Response to the Application of Cefuroxime and/or Antibiotic-Resistant Pseudomonas putida Strain MC1. Sustainability, 10(10), 3549.

Peterson, E., Kaur, P. (2018) Antibiotic resistance mechanisms in bacteria: relationships between resistance determinants of antibiotic producers, environmental bacteria, and clinical pathogens. Frontiers in microbiology, 9, 2928.

Pruden, A., Larsson, D. G., Amézquita, A., Collignon, P., Brandt, K. K., Graham, D. W. (2013). Management options for reducing the release of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes to the environment. Environmental health perspectives, 121(8), 878885. 

Serwecińska, L. (2020). Antimicrobials and antibiotic-resistant bacteria: a risk to the environment and to public health. Water, 12(12), 3313.

Sibanda, T., Ramganesh, S. (2021) Taxonomic and functional analyses reveal existence of virulence and antibiotic resistance genes in beach sand bacterial populations. Archives of Microbiology, 203 (4), 1753–1766.

Sokolova, L. I., Galchenko, D. S., Smirnova, M. G., Blinovskaia, Ia. Iu. (2021). Ispolzovanie prirodnykh aliumosilikatov dlia ochistki stochnykh vod ot antibiotikov razlichnykh klassov [The use of natural aluminosilicates for wastewater treatment from antibiotics of various classes]. Gidrometeorologiia i ekologiia, 62, 113126 (in Russian).

Squadrone, S. (2020). Water environments: metal-tolerant and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Environ Monit Assess, 192, 238.

Vaz-Moreira, I., Nunes, O. C., Manaia, C.M. (2014). Bacterial diversity and antibiotic resistance in water habitats: searching the links with the human microbiome. FEMS microbiology reviews, 38(4), 761778.

Wright, G. D. (2010). Antibiotic resistance in the environment: a link to the clinic? Current opinion in microbiology, 13(5), 589–594.

Abstract views: 49
PDF Downloads: 36
How to Cite
Matylonok, T., Pakhomov, O., & Polishchuck, N. (2021). Antibiotic-resistant microbiota of water and soil ecosystems as risk factors for human health. Ecology and Noospherology, 32(1), 67-70.