Antibiotic resistance in soil and tomato crop irrigated with freshwater and two types of treated wastewater

Mitiku Mihiret Seyoum, Rachel Lichtenberg, Ezra Orlofsky, Nirit Bernstein, Osnat Gillor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Agricultural use of treated wastewater (TWW) is an effective means to reduce freshwater (FW) consumption. However, there is a growing concern regarding the potential dissemination of antibiotic resistance elements by TWW irrigation. We hypothesized that higher levels of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) would be detected in soil and crops irrigated with TWW compared to FW irrigation. To test our prediction, samples of water (FW, secondary TWW, and tertiary TWW), irrigated soils, and crops (tomato) surface wash were collected during two consecutive growing seasons. The ARGs conferring resistance to sulfonamide, fluoroquinolone, penicillin, erythromycin and tetracycline were quantified in the samples, alongside Class 1 integron-integrase and the bacterial 16 S rRNA encoding genes. Contrary to our hypothesis, ARGs in the irrigation water were not propagated to either the irrigated soil, or the tomato. The tomato surface wash featured a variety of ARGs that were undetected in neither the waters nor the irrigated soils. Therefore, we cautiously question the link between irrigation water quality and the soil and produce resistomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113021
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • Agriculture
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Effluent
  • Soil
  • Vegetable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Biochemistry


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