A new study has discovered that microplastics present in sewage have become a hub for drug-resistant bacteria.
A large amount of study on microplastics has been focused on its effect on environment but its role in supporting drug resistant bacteria is new.
The microplastics allow formation of a thin layer of bio-film on its surface that allows anti-biotic waste and bacteria to join together.
The research also identified that drug-resistance in certain types of bacteria was up to 30 times when they attach to microplastics present in municipal wastewater and sewage treatment plants.
Various chemicals, pathogens and drug resistant bacteria converge in wastewater treatment plants and are supplemented by microplastics.
These microplastics act as carrier of these drug resistant varieties, causing risk to aquatic life and human health if they bypass the water treatment process.
The scientists studied samples from three domestic wastewater treatment plants in New Jersey, U.S and added microplastics in form of polyethylene and polystyrene.
They later identified bacteria species that grow on the microplastics. They tracked genetic changes during the course of study.
They also discovered bacteria with three varieties of genes, sul1, sul2 and intI1 that are known to aid resistance to common antibiotics, sulphonamides.
They were found to be up to 30 times greater on the microplastic biofilms than the control medium in the lab.
Adding the antibiotic sulphonamides increased the antibiotic resistance genes by up to 4.5-fold.
The bacteria attached to microplastics secrete glue like substance to keep their position and can also swap DNA with each other during their life.
Scientists identified two emerging human respiratory disease causing pathogens in the sample studied.
The study will help in devising new techniques to prevent the drug resistant bacteria from bypassing water treatment system.
Drug resistance is a condition in which common treatment medicines become ineffective in treating a particular variety of pathogen.
The pathogens will have a modification in its genetic information that will allow it to tackle drugs that can control its growth.