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Research article2021Peer reviewed

Heavy metal pollution promotes antibiotic resistance potential in the aquatic environment

Komijani, Majid; Shamabadi, Narges Sadat; Shahin, Khashayar; Eghbalpour, Farnaz; Tahsili, Mohammad Reza; Bahram, Mohammad


Water pollution is one of the main challenges and water crises, which has caused the existing water resources to be unusable due to contamination. To understand the determinants of the distribution and abundance of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), we examined the distribution of 22 ARGs in relation to habitat type, heavy metal pollution and antibiotics concentration across six lakes and wetlands of Iran. The concentration of 13 heavy metals was determined by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) by Thermo Electron Corporation, and five antibiotics by online enrichment and triple-quadrupole LC-MS/MS were investigated. We further performed a global meta-analysis to evaluate the distribution of ARGs across global lakes compared with our studied lakes. While habitat type effect was negligible, we found a strong correlation between waste discharge into the lakes and the abundance of ARGs. The ARGs abundance showed stronger correlation with the concentration of heavy metals, such as Vanadium, than with that of antibiotics. Our meta-analysis also confirmed that overuse of antibiotics and discharge of heavy metals in the studied lakes. These data point to an increase in the distribution of ARGs among bacteria and their increasing resistance to various antibiotics, implying the susceptibility of aquatic environment to industrial pollution. (C) 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Antibiotic; Resistance gene; Heavy metal; Lake; Pollution

Published in

Environmental Pollution
2021, Volume: 274, article number: 116569

    Associated SLU-program

    AMR: Bacteria

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
    Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
    Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)