Environmental bacteria belonging to various families were isolated from polluted water collected from ten different sites in Tunisia. Sites were chosen near industrial and urban areas known for their high degree of pollution. The aim of this study was to investigate cross-resistance between heavy metals (HM), i.e., silver, mercury and copper (Ag, Hg, and Cu), and antibiotics. In an initial screening, 80 isolates were selected on ampicillin, and 39 isolates, retained for further analysis, could grow on a Tris-buffered mineral medium with gluconate as carbon source. Isolates were identified based on their 16S rRNA gene sequence. Results showed the prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes, especially all isolates harbored the blaTEM gene. Some of them (15.38%) harbored blaSHV. Moreover, several were even ESBLs and MBLs-producers, which can threaten the human health. On the other hand, 92.30%, 56.41%, and 51.28% of the isolates harbored the heavy metals resistance genes silE, cusA, and merA, respectively. These genes confer resistance to silver, copper, and mercury. A cross-resistance between antibiotics and heavy metals was detected in 97.43% of our isolates.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, Microbiology and Virology