Bacterial diversity and antibiotic resistance in water habitats: searching the links with the human microbiome

Authors

  • Ivone Vaz-Moreira,

    1. CBQF – Centro de Biotecnologia e Química Fina – Laboratório Associado, Escola Superior de Biotecnologia, Universidade Católica Portuguesa/Porto, Rua Dr. António Bernardino Almeida, Porto, Portugal
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  • Olga C. Nunes,

    1. LEPAE-Laboratorio de Engenharia de Processos, Ambiente e Energia, Departamento de Engenharia Quimica, Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto, Rua Dr. Roberto Frias, Porto, Portugal
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  • Célia M. Manaia

    Corresponding author
    1. CBQF – Centro de Biotecnologia e Química Fina – Laboratório Associado, Escola Superior de Biotecnologia, Universidade Católica Portuguesa/Porto, Rua Dr. António Bernardino Almeida, Porto, Portugal
    • Correspondence: Célia M. Manaia, Escola Superior de Biotecnologia, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Rua Dr. António Bernardino de Almeida, 4200-072 Porto, Portugal. Tel.: +351 22 5580059; fax: +351 22 5090351; e-mail: cmanaia@porto.ucp.pt

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Abstract

Water is one of the most important bacterial habitats on Earth. As such, water represents also a major way of dissemination of bacteria between different environmental compartments. Human activities led to the creation of the so-called urban water cycle, comprising different sectors (waste, surface, drinking water), among which bacteria can hypothetically be exchanged. Therefore, bacteria can be mobilized between unclean water habitats (e.g. wastewater) and clean or pristine water environments (e.g. disinfected and spring drinking water) and eventually reach humans. In addition, bacteria can also transfer mobile genetic elements between different water types, other environments (e.g. soil) and humans. These processes may involve antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes. In this review, the hypothesis that some bacteria may share different water compartments and be also hosted by humans is discussed based on the comparison of the bacterial diversity in different types of water and with the human-associated microbiome. The role of such bacteria as potential disseminators of antibiotic resistance and the inference that currently only a small fraction of the clinically relevant antibiotic resistome may be known is discussed.

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