Antibiotic resistance genes are abundant and diverse in raw sewage used for urban agriculture in Africa and associated with urban population density

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  • Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Science, University of Yaounde 1, P.O. Box 812, Yaounde, Cameroon.


A comparative study was conducted to (1) assess the potential of raw sewage used for urban agriculture to disseminate bacterial resistance in two cities of different size in Cameroon (Central Africa) and (2) compare the outcome with data obtained in Burkina Faso (West Africa). In each city, raw sewage samples were sampled from open-air canals in three neighbourhoods. After DNA extraction, the microbial population structure and function, presence of pathogens, antibiotic resistance genes and Enterobacteriaceae plasmids replicons were analysed using whole genome shotgun sequencing and bioinformatics. Forty-three pathogen-specific virulenc e factor genes were detected in the sewage. Eighteen different incompatibility groups of Enterobacteriaceae plasmid replicon types (ColE, A/C, B/O/K/Z, FIA, FIB, FIC, FII, H, I, N, P, Q, R, T, U, W, X, and Y) implicated in the spread of drug-resistance genes were present in the sewage samples. One hundred thirty-six antibiotic resistance genes commonly associated with MDR plasmid carriage were identified in both cities. Enterobacteriaceae plasmid replicons and ARGs found in Burkina Faso wastewaters were also present in Cameroon waters. The abundance of Enterobacteriaceae, plasmid replicons and antibiotic resistance genes was greater in Yaounde, the city with the greater population. In conclusion, the clinically relevant environmental resistome found in raw sewage used for urban agriculture is common in West and Central Africa. The size of the city impacts on the abundance of drug-resistant genes in the raw sewage while ESBL gene abundance is related to the prevalence of Enterobacteriaceae along with plasmid Enterobacteriaceae abundance associated to faecal pollution.

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Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-154
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Early online date30 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Bacterial resistance, Raw sewage, Urban agriculture, ESBLs, Africa

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