pp 1–13 | Cite as

Antibiotics and Resistance Genes in Awash River Basin, Ethiopia

  • Alemayehu Adugna Ergie
  • Yifei Leng
  • Jun WangEmail author
Original Contribution


Among contaminants of emerging concern in the environment, a growing attention has been given to antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant genes (ARGs) due to the rise in their usage and potential ecotoxicological and public health effect. However, the occurrence of these contaminants in the environment is little investigated in developing countries particularly in sub-Saharan regions. In this study, the occurrence of three groups of antimicrobials including tetracycline, sulfonamides and fluoroquinolone, and their corresponding ARGs were investigated in the sediments of Awash River Basin, Ethiopia. Out of twelve studied compounds, sulfadiazine and enrofloxacin showed the highest and lowest detection frequency, respectively. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis revealed that tetA and tetB occurred in all the samples. The relative abundance of the resistant genes was in the following order: tetA > tetB > sul2 > sul1. Redundancy analysis result indicated that some sediment characteristics were found to have influence on the distribution sul1-resistant gene.


Ethiopia Sediment Antibiotics Antibiotic-resistant gene Awash River Basin 



This work was financially supported by Funding project of Sino-Africa Joint Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Y623321K01), National Key Research and Development Program of China, grant number (2018YFD0900604), and Guangdong Province Universities and Colleges Pearl River Scholar Funded Scheme (2018).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10393_2019_1431_MOESM1_ESM.doc (170 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 169 kb)


  1. Arikan OA, Rice C, Codling E (2008) Occurrence of antibiotics and hormones in a major agricultural watershed. Desalination 226:121–133; CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aschale M, Sileshi Y, Kelly-Quinn M, Hailu D (2016) Pollution assessment of toxic and potentially toxic elements in agricultural soils of the city Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 98(2):234–243CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Azanu D, Styrishave B, Darko G, Weisser JJ, Abaidoo RC (2018) Occurrence and risk assessment of antibiotics in water and lettuce in Ghana. Science of the Total Environment 623:293–305. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berglund B, Fick J, Lindgren PE (2015) Urban wastewater effluent increases antibiotic resistance gene concentrations in a receiving northern European river. Environmental Toxicology Chemistry 34(1):192–196CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen B, Liang X, Huang X, Zhang T, Li X (2013) Differentiating anthropogenic impacts on ARGs in the Pearl River Estuary by using suitable gene indicators. Water Research 47(8):2811–2820CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen H, Jing L, Teng Y, Wang J (2018) Characterization of antibiotics in a large-scale river system of China: Occurrence pattern, spatiotemporal distribution and environmental risks. Science of the Total Environment 618:409–418. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen H, Zhang M (2013) Occurrence and removal of antibiotic resistance genes in municipal wastewater and rural domestic sewage treatment systems in eastern China. Environment International 55:9–14CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Christgen B, Yang Y, Ahammad SZ, Li B, Rodriquez DC, Zhang T, Graham DW (2015) Metagenomics shows that low-energy anaerobic-aerobic treatment reactors reduce antibiotic resistance gene levels from domestic wastewater. Environmental Science and Technology 49(4):2577–2584CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Christian T, Schneider RJ, Färber HA, Skutlarek D, Meyer MT, Goldbach HE (2003) Determination of antibiotic residues in manure, soil, and surface waters. Acta Hydrochimica et Hydrobiologica 31(1):36–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Degefu F, Lakew A, Teshome, K (2013) The water quality degradation of upper Awash River, Ethiopia. Ethiopian Journal of Environmental Studies and Management 6(1):58–66Google Scholar
  11. Devarajan N, Laffite A, Graham ND, Meijer M, Prabakar K, Mubedi JI, Poté J (2015) Accumulation of clinically relevant antibiotic-resistance genes, bacterial load, and metals in freshwater lake sediments in central Europe. Environmental Science and Technology 49(11):6528–6537CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Devarajan N, Laffite A, Mulaji CK, Otamonga JP, Mpiana PT, Mubedi JI, Poté J (2016) Occurrence of antibiotic resistance genes and bacterial markers in a tropical river receiving hospital and urban wastewaters. PLoS ONE 11(2)1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gao P, Mao D, Luo Y, Wang L, Xu B, Xu L (2012) Occurrence of sulfonamide and tetracycline-resistant bacteria and resistance genes in aquaculture environment. Water Research 46(7):2355–2364CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Gebeyehu E, Bantie L, Azage M (2015) Inappropriate use of antibiotics and its associated factors among urban and rural communities of Bahir Dar city administration, Northwest Ethiopia. PLoS ONE 10(9):1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Graham DW, Olivares-Rieumont S, Knapp CW, Lima L, Werner D, Bowen E (2011) Antibiotic resistance gene abundances associated with waste discharges to the Almendares river near Havana, Cuba. Environmental Science and Technology 45(2):418–424. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Hu Y, Yan X, Shen Y, Di M, Wang J (2018) Antibiotics in surface water and sediments from Hanjiang River, Central China: Occurrence, behavior and risk assessment. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 157:150–158; CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Ji X, Shen Q, Liu F, Ma J, Xu G, Wang Y, Wu M (2012) Antibiotic resistance gene abundances associated with antibiotics and heavy metals in animal manures and agricultural soils adjacent to feedlots in Shanghai, China. J Hazard Mater 236: 178–185; CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jia J, Guan Y, Cheng M, Chen H, He J, Wang S, Wang Z (2018) Occurrence and distribution of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes in Ba River, China. Sci Total Environ 642:1136–1144; CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Jiang L, Hu X, Xu T, Zhang H, Sheng D, Yin D (2013) Prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes and their relationship with antibiotics in the Huangpu River and the drinking water sources, Shanghai, China. Sci. Total Environ. 458–460: 267–272. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Jiang Y, Li M, Guo C, An D, Xu J, Zhang Y, Xi B (2014) Distribution and ecological risk of antibiotics in a typical effluent-receiving river (Wangyang River) in north China. Chemosphere 112: 267–274; CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Karkman A, Johnson T A, Lyra C, Stedtfeld RD, Tamminen M, Tiedje JM, Virta M (2016) High-throughput quantification of antibiotic resistance genes from an urban wastewater treatment plant. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 92(3):1–7. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kemper N (2008) Veterinary antibiotics in the aquatic and terrestrial environment. Ecol Indicat 8(1):1–13. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kim SC, Carlson K (2007) Temporal and spatial trends in the occurrence of human and veterinary antibiotics in aqueous and river sediment matrices. Environ Sci Technol 41(1):50–57. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Kim SKK (2007) Quantification of human and veterinary antibiotics in water and sediment using SPE/LC/MS/MS. Anal Bioanal Chem 387:1301–1315; CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Klein EY, Van Boeckel TP, Martinez EM, Pant S, Gandra S, Levin SA, Laxminarayan R (2018) Global increase and geographic convergence in antibiotic consumption between 2000 and 2015. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115(15): 3463–3470. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kümmerer K (2009) Antibiotics in the aquatic environment A review Part I. Chemosphere 75: 417–434; CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Laffite A, Kilunga PI, Kayembe JM, Devarajan N, Mulaji CK, Giuliani G, Poté J (2016) Hospital effluents are one of several sources of metal, antibiotic resistance genes, and bacterial markers disseminated in sub-Saharan urban rivers. Front Microbiol 7: 1–14; CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Li S, Shi W, Li H, Xu N, Zhang R, Chen X, Fan Y (2018) Antibiotics in water and sediments of rivers and coastal area of Zhuhai City, Pearl River estuary, south China. Sci Total Environ 636:1009–1019. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Lin AY, Tsai Y (2009) Occurrence of pharmaceuticals in Taiwan’ s surface waters: Impact of waste streams from hospitals and pharmaceutical production facilities. Sci Total Environ 407:3793–3802. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Liu W, Yao L, Wang Z, Xiong Z, Liu G (2015) Human land uses enhance sediment denitrification and N2O production in Yangtze lakes primarily by influencing lake water quality. Biogeosciences 12(20): 6059–6070. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Luo YI, Mao D, Rysz M (2010) Trends in Antibiotic resistance genes occurrence in the Haihe River, China. Environ Sci Technol 44(19):7220–7225.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Luo Y, Xu L, Rysz M, Wang Y, Zhang H, Alvarez PJJ (2011) Occurrence and transport of tetracycline, sulfonamide, quinolone, and macrolide antibiotics in the Haihe River Basin, China. Environ Sci Technol 45(5):1827–1833. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Moges F, Endris M, Mulu A, Tessema B (2014) The growing challenges of antibacterial drug resistance in Ethiopia. J Glob Antimicrob Resist 2(3):148–154. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Ngumba E, Gachanja A, Tuhkanen T (2016) Occurrence of selected antibiotics and antiretroviral drugs in Nairobi River Basin, Kenya. Sci total Environ 539:206–213. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Ouyang WY, Huang FY, Zhao Y, Li H, Su JQ (2015) Increased levels of antibiotic resistance in urban stream of Jiulongjiang River, China. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 99(13):5697–5707. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Pei R, Kim SC, Carlson KH, Pruden A (2006) Effect of River Landscape on the sediment concentrations of antibiotics and corresponding antibiotic resistance genes. Water Res 40(12):2427–2435. Google Scholar
  37. Pruden A, Pei R, Storteboom H, Carlson KH (2006) Antibiotic resistance genes as emerging contaminants: Studies in Northern Colorado. Environ Sci Technol 41(7):2651–2652. Google Scholar
  38. Pruden A, Arabi M, Storteboom HN (2012) Correlation between upstream human activities and riverine antibiotic resistance genes. Environ Sci Technol 46(21):11541–11549. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Rooijen DV, Taddesse G (2009) Urban sanitation and wastewater treatment in Addis Ababa in the Awash Basin, Ethiopia. Accessed 17 Sept 2018
  40. Sabri NA, Schmitt H, Zaan B Van Der, Gerritsen HW, Zuidema T, Rijnaarts HHM (2018) Prevalence of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes in a wastewater effluent receiving river in the Netherlands. J Environ Chem Eng. Google Scholar
  41. Su H, Pan C, Ying G, Zhao J, Zhou L, Liu Y (2014) Contamination profiles of antibiotic resistance genes in the sediments at a catchment scale. Sci Total Environ 490: 708–714.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Taddese G, Kai S, Peden D 2004 The water of the Awash River Basin a future challenge to Ethiopia. Accessed 5 Oct 2018
  43. Tenenbaum I, Chefetz B, Avisar D (2014) Physicochemical behavior of tetracycline and 17α-ethinylestradiol with wastewater sludge-derived humic substances. Water Air Soil Pollut 225:2155. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Usman MA, Gerber N, Braun J (2016) The impact of drinking water quality and sanitation behavior on child health: evidence from rural Ethiopia. ZEF—Discussion Papers on Development Policy No. 221, Center for Development Research, Bonn, pp 45Google Scholar
  45. Van Den Honert MS, Gouws PA, Hoffman LC (2018) Importance and implications of antibiotic resistance development in livestock and wildlife farming in South Africa: A Review. South African Journal of Animal Science 48(3):401-412. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wu D, Huang Z, Yang K, Graham D, Xie B (2015) Relationships between antibiotics and antibiotic resistance gene levels in municipal solid waste leachates in Shanghai, China. Environ Sci Technol 49(7):4122–4128. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Wu N, Qiao M, Zhang B, Cheng WD, Zhu YG (2010) Abundance and diversity of tetracycline resistance genes in soils adjacent to representative swine feedlots in China. Environ Sci Technol 44(18):6933–6939. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Xiong W, Sun Y, Ding X, Zhang Y, Zeng Z (2014) Antibiotic resistance genes occurrence and bacterial community composition in the Liuxi River. Front Environ Sci 2:1–6; Scholar
  49. Xu Y, Guo C, Luo Y, Lv J, Zhang Y, Lin H, Wang L (2016) Occurrence and distribution of antibiotics, antibiotic resistance genes in the urban rivers in Beijing, China. Environ pollut 213: 833–840; CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Yang J, Ying G, Zhao J, Tao R, Su H, Chen F (2010) Simultaneous determination of four classes of antibiotics in sediments of the Pearl Rivers using RRLC – MS/MS. Sci Total Environ 408: 3424–3432; CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Yang Y, Liu W, Xu C, Wei B, Wang J (2017) Antibiotic resistance genes in lakes from middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, China: Effect of land use and sediment characteristics. Chemosphere 178: 19–25; CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Yang Y, Owino AA, Gao Y, Yan X, Xu C, Wang J (2016) Occurrence, composition and risk assessment of antibiotics in soils from Kenya, Africa. Ecotoxicology 25(6):1194–1201. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Zhang XX, Zhang T (2011) Occurrence, abundance, and diversity of tetracycline resistance genes in 15 sewage treatment plants across china and other global locations. Environ Sci Technol 45(7):2598–2604. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Zhou L, Ying G, Zhao J, Yang J, Wang L, Yang B, Liu S (2011) Trends in the occurrence of human and veterinary antibiotics in the sediments of the Yellow River, Hai River and Liao River in northern China. Environ Pollut 159:1877-1885; CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Zhou ZC, Zheng J, Wei YY, Chen T, Dahlgren RA, Shang X, Chen H (2017) Antibiotic resistance genes in an urban river as impacted by bacterial community and physicochemical parameters. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 24(30):23753–23762. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© EcoHealth Alliance 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Aquatic Botany and Watershed Ecology, Wuhan Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.College of Marine SciencesSouth China Agricultural UniversityGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Sino-Africa Joint Research CenterChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations