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Escherichia coli out in the cold: dissemination of human-derived bacteria into the Antarctic microbiome


Power, ML and Samuel, A and Smith, JJ and Stark, JS and Gillings, MR and Gordon, DM, Escherichia coli out in the cold: dissemination of human-derived bacteria into the Antarctic microbiome, Environmental Pollution, 215 pp. 58-65. ISSN 0269-7491 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Elsevier Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2016.04.013


Discharge of untreated sewage into Antarctic environments presents a risk of introducing non-native microorganisms, but until now, adverse consequences have not been conclusively identified. Here we show that sewage disposal introduces human derived Escherichia coli carrying mobile genetic elements and virulence traits with the potential to affect the diversity and evolution of native Antarctic microbial communities. We compared E. coli recovered from environmental and animal sources in Antarctica to a reference collection of E. coli from humans and non-Antarctic animals. The distribution of phylogenetic groups and frequency of 11 virulence factors amongst the Antarctic isolates were characteristic of E. coli strains more commonly associated with humans. The rapidly emerging E. coli ST131 and ST95 clones were found amongst the Antarctic isolates, and ST95 was the predominant E. coli recovered from Weddell seals. Class 1 integrons were found in 15% of the Antarctic E. coli with 4 of 5 identified gene cassette arrays containing antibiotic resistance genes matching those common in clinical contexts. Disposing untreated sewage into the Antarctic environment does disseminate non-native microorganisms, but the extent of this impact and implications for Antarctic ecosystem health are, as yet, poorly understood.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:sewage, ST95, ST131, Class 1 integron, wildlife, human impacts
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Environmental assessment and monitoring
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences
UTAS Author:Stark, JS (Dr Jonathan Stark)
ID Code:118926
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:22
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2017-07-24
Last Modified:2017-09-29

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