Antibiotic resistant bacteria in the environment as bio-indicators of pollution

James R. Paulson*, Ibrahim Y. Mahmoud, Salma K. Al-Musharafi, Saif N. Al-Bahry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Antibiotic resistant and multiple-antibiotic resistant bacteria (MARB) have become increasingly widespread,primarily due to overuse of antibiotics in clinical therapeutics and in growth promotion for livestock. This undermines the usefulness of the drugs and presents a serious problem for human health. Compounding the problem,resistance determinants can spread between different bacteria via transfer of genetic material,so that the digestive tracts of farm animals,for example,have become breeding grounds for MARB. Antibiotics and resistant bacteria enter the environment in both treated and untreated sewage,via wastewater streams from hospitals and pharmaceutical plants,and through agricultural runoff from feedlots and fields fertilized with manure. This has led to contamination of groundwater,lakes,rivers and coastal sea water,and high levels of MARB in wildlife which indicates pollution of these habitats. Here we propose that the level of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in wildlife,for example sea turtles and fish,could be used as a bioindicator to monitor pollution and to evaluate the success of efforts to curtail it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-351
Number of pages10
JournalOpen Biotechnology Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Bioindicators
  • Ocean pollution
  • Sea turtles
  • Water pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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