Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 10-2020


The effluents of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) include a complex mixture of nutrients and toxic substances, thus, the potential exists for the effluent to significantly impact the biochemical characteristics and bacterial communities of the receiving freshwater ecosystem. Our findings highlight the worrisome impacts of WWTPs on microbial biomass, coliform forming units, bacterial metabolic diversity, and antibiotic resistance patterns on the receiving water. In this study, microbial biomass and coliform forming units were significantly higher at the WWTP outfall compared to the reference site. Furthermore, this report revealed significant differences in the composition of bacterial communities in the context of WWTP impact. High nutrient availability at the outfall increased bacterial metabolic diversity and the prevalence of antibiotic resistance bacteria. Exposure to effluents polluted water during recreational activities could pose a risk for human health due to ingesting those antimicrobial-resistant bacteria.


  • Madeline Draper; Amerti Guta; Philips Akinwole, PhD

  • Department of Biology, DePauw University, Greencastle, IN

  • Supported by: DePauw University Science Research Fellows Program, Douglas A. and Phyllis G. Smith Endowed Fund for Student-Faculty Research, Faculty Development Committee, and Asher Office for Undergraduate Research

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