Investigating the effects of electro-oxidation on non-resistant and antibiotic-resistant Escherichia Coli (E-Coli) bacteria


Naqvi, Raza


Bacterial infections have plagued humanity throughout history. In the last century, antibiotics have changed the world by saving and improving an untold number of lives. However, developing antibiotic resistance is a persisting problem where currently 750,000 deaths are caused annually by resistant bacteria (React, 2021)1 and the problem is expected to exacerbate (WHO, Antibiotic resistance, 2020). A hotspot for the development of antibiotics resistant bacteria (ARB) is in wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) where antibiotic resistant genes (ARG) are spread through horizontal gene transfer to bacteria originating from completely different environments (AnttiKarkman, 2018)3. This report aims to investigate the effects of electro-oxidation (EO) with a boron doped diamond (BDD) electrode – a WWTP water-sterilization technology - on resistant and non-resistant bacteria (NRB and ARB respectively) and to determine whether ARB have a genetic advantage in combatting the effects of EO. NRB and ARB Escherichia coli (E-Coli) populations were cultivated, extracted, treated with EO and the samples from the treatment re-cultivated on petri dishes to determine whether the species responded similarly. Results suggested there was no difference between the NRB and ARB populations to EO treatment and that perhaps ARB populations were eliminated more rapidly, however the limited number of experiments performed limits confidence in this conclusion. Relevant literature is considered to critically analyze the results, though the conclusion suggests that EO would be an invaluable watertreatment technology in the future to combat antibiotic-resistance due to its indiscriminate destruction of ARB and NRB alike. An overview of the environmental impact of EO technology is also provided with a flexible economic-cost model to approximate the expenditure of incorporating EO into a WWTP.

KEY WORDS: Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (ARB), Antibiotic Resistant Gene (ARG), Non-Resistant Bacteria (NRB), Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP), Electrooxidation (EO), Boron Doped Diamond electrode (BDD)



Auset Vallejo, María


IQS SE - Undergraduate Program in Chemical Engineering