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Table of Contents
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 127-131

Resistance of heavy metal and antibiotics at industrial effluents and agriculture stagnant water

1 Division of Microbiology, ICMR-National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
2 Division of Toxicology, ICMR-National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Date of Submission24-Feb-2021
Date of Decision12-Apr-2021
Date of Acceptance16-Apr-2021
Date of Web Publication28-May-2021

Correspondence Address:
Mahesh Chandra Sahu
Division of Toxicology, ICMR-National Institute of Occupational Health, Meghani Nagar, Ahmedabad - 380 016, Gujarat
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/am.am_16_21

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Industries are developed day by day. It is required for the development of the country, but industrial pollution is the major problem worldwide. Industrial effluents contain organic, inorganic, radioactive, metals, antibiotics, and carcinogenic substances. Effluents directly or indirectly contact with drinking water and agricultural water and affect human health. Due to metal and antibiotic polluted environment, bacteria developed special resistant mechanism against heavy metal and antibiotic. In future, these bacteria easily survive in high dose and affect humans and agricultural land.

Keywords: Antibiotic, bacteria, effluents, heavy metals, resistant

How to cite this article:
Patel TM, Sahu MC. Resistance of heavy metal and antibiotics at industrial effluents and agriculture stagnant water. Apollo Med 2021;18:127-31

How to cite this URL:
Patel TM, Sahu MC. Resistance of heavy metal and antibiotics at industrial effluents and agriculture stagnant water. Apollo Med [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 21];18:127-31. Available from: https://www.apollomedicine.org/text.asp?2021/18/2/127/317184

  Introduction Top

Industry produces a various product and provides services for people or industry is the work and process involved raw material and making them in to product.

  Classification of Industries Top


Primary industries are those industries which produce primary requirements which are useful. The example of primary industry is agriculture industry as it produces material which we can use.


It involves those industries which are produce a product by using the advance technique. Car making industries are the examples of secondary industry.


It provides essential facility and assist to other level of industry. It includes finance, medical, education, and other services.


Called as information industry provides research and training, creation, and transfer of information.


It is branch of country's economy. It controls all the decision. Laws and policies are made and implemented by Quinary industry.

Industrial growth can be promoting through modern techniques, easy investment, through investigation and expertise. Industries are for economic and business purposes. Therefore, industries affect the gross domestic product of the country. Details of the products of the different industries are documented in [Table 1].
Table 1: Different types of major industry in India and their products

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Due to industrialization contaminant introduced into the environment. Nowadays, major of pollutions generated by industrial process which includes air pollution, noise pollution, plastic pollution, thermal pollution, soil pollution, and water pollution. It can cause respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, skin disease, neurological disease, and cancer. Other than human health industrial pollution highly affect to the agricultural field. Waste effluents are release into rivers and around the area of industries reduces the quality of soil. Industrial development is required but the reduction of waste and its management also required it will be necessary for environment.

  Industrial Waste Mainly Classified into Following Two Forms Top

Hazardous waste

Hazardous waste can highly affect environment. It is harmful to the plants, animal, and human being. Hazardous waste cannot degrade easily. It can generate by steel, chemical, dye, and fertilizer industries.

Examples: Fly ash, silver foil, radioactive substances, plastic, metals, etc.

Nonhazardous waste

Nonhazardous waste can also affect the environment but not harmful as related to hazardous waste. It can produce by dairy, textile, and food industries.[3]

Examples: Paints, sludge, sand paper, etc.

Due to industrial process, soil, air, and water pollution occur. Water pollution is one of the most devastating effects of industrial waste. For industrial process, heavy amount of water is used. Moreover, it comes out with harmful chemicals called industrial effluent and it end up in rivers, lake, and ocean directly or indirectly affect human, animals, plants, and aquatic environment. Industrial effluent contains chemicals, metals, radioactive substances, and also contains some microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.

There are few bacteria that found in industrial waste are Staphylococcus sp., Micrococcus sp., Tricococcus and sp, Bacillus sp., Pseudomonas sp., Serrentia marcescenes, Acinetobacter lwoffii, Klebsiella pneumonia, Enterobacter aerogenes, and Proteus sp. Apart from these, some fungi are Aspergillus sp., Chaetomium sp., Acremonium sp., Trichoderma sp., Fusarium sp., Penicillium sp., and Cladosporium sp.[4]

Other than microorganisms the chemicals and metals are also present in effluent, that metals higher concentration can toxic to the environment it may cause mutagenic and carcinogenic impact on human health. The term “heavy metal” generally defined as metals with high densities, atomic weight, or atomic number. Some examples of heavy metal such as Hg, Cu, Pb, Ag, Cd, Ni, Cr, and Zn. We are well known about its toxicity so the removal of this heavy metal from the effluent is required [Table 2]. Industrial waste is the major source of pollution so its reduction is required to reduce the industrial waste, waste management should require.
Table 2: Effects of heavy metal on human health

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  Industrial Waste Management Top

Best way to protect our environment is managing waste. Industrial waste management is the process which transfers the waste to its disposal site. Industrial waste can dispose by many ways such as recycling, land filling, composting, and incineration. The methods used for the removal of heavy metal from the effluent are ion-exchange chromatography, precipitation, electrochemical treatment, reverse osmosis, etc., all the methods are expensive and release chemical to the environments as by product so it can be replacing by the biological method.

Microorganisms are capable to consume waste and covert toxic substances into nontoxic substances. Bioremediation is the process which removes heavy metals from the effluent. The process based on biological agent binding with metal which removes heavy metals from the waste. In bioremediation process, microorganisms can use because of their biological activity. They uptake a metal from the contaminated and they produced metabolites to degrade the complex compound into simple compound because they generate resistant mechanism against heavy metals.[8]

  Mechanism of Bacteria Resistant to Heavy Metals Top

Metals are either essential nutrients or harmful if it is in larger amounts.

There are mainly five mechanisms.[9]

Extracellular barrier

Extracellular mechanism is the way to prevent metals enters into the cell. The barrier which is bacterial cell wall or capsule could stop metal ions from entering the cell and also change in plasma membrane permeability could prevent the entry of metal in to the cell. In Escherichia coli mutant, there is the absence of porins-membrane proteins that act as channels for hydrophilic compounds show low levels of silver ions amassing interior in to cell.[10]

Active transport of metal ions (efflux)

Most of the heavy metals resistant system of bacteria to be elected by active transport. Bacteria utilized this system to export metal ions from cells. Genetic determinants of efflux system can be localized on chromosome and plasmid. Arsenic resistance Ars system composed of 3–5 genes and found in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Arsenic operon encodes ATPase pump: ArsA/ArsB and ArsC reductase. In the first step, arsenate is enzymatically reduced to arsenite by cytoplasmic ArsC arsenate reductase and is exported by the efflux system through the plasma membrane.[11]

Extracellular sequestration

Extracellular sequestration is the accumulation of metal ions by cellular components in the periplasm or the outer membrane or complexation of metal ions as insoluble compounds. Copper resistant Pseudomonas syringae strain synthesized copper-inducible proteins Cop A, Cop B (periplasmic proteins) and Cop C (outer membrane protein) which bind copper ions and bacterial colonies turn blue as the result of metal accumulation[12] another example was metal precipitation as insoluble complexes. Sulphate reducing bacteria generate large amount of hydrogen sulphide that causes precipitation of number of metal cations.[13],[14]

Intracellular sequestration

Cadmium tolerant Pseudomonas putida strain possessed the ability of intracellular sequestration of copper, cadmium, and zinc ions with the help of cysteine rich low-molecular-weight protein.[15] Intracellular sequestration of cadmium ions by glutathione was observed in Rhizobium leguminosarum cell.[16]

Reduction of metal ions

For energy generation, some bacteria use metal and metalloids as electron donors or accepters. Metal in the oxidized form could serve as terminal acceptors of electron during the anaerobic respiration of bacteria. Enzymatic reduction of metal ions would also result in the formation of less toxic form of mercury.[17] Horizontal gene transfer plays a major role in spreading of heavy metal resistance in the environment. In another way, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are also evolved in industrial waste.

What is antibiotic?

Antibiotics are the chemical substances which are extracted from microorganisms or synthesized by chemically which inhibit the bacteria or kill the bacteria.

  Mechanism of Bacteria-Resistant Antibiotics Top

It develops due to indiscriminate use, misuse and overuse of antibiotics in human and animals. Bacteria can resist against multiple antibiotics by genetic changes. It will reduce the efficacy of drug. Moreover, there are mainly three mechanisms involved which resist the bacteria against antibiotics.[18]

Bacteria have those particular enzymes which involved resisting bacteria against antibiotic

Most important mechanism of bacteria resistant to the Penicillin and Cephalosporin is antibiotic hydrolysis mediated by the enzyme beta-lactamase induce or depressed by exposure of beta – lactam drug.

Second thing that bacteria change that protein which is targeted by antibiotic

Resistant to methicillin which is stable to Gram-positive beta lactamase occurs through the alteration of an antibiotic target protein – penicillin binding protein 2.

The bacteria change the permeability of the membrane that antibiotic cannot pass that membrane

Bacteria reduced antibiotic penetration is also a resistant mechanism for several classes of Antibiotics including beta-lactam drugs, aminoglycosides, chloramphenicol, and quinines.

  Co-Relation Between Heavy Metal and Antibiotic Resistant Top

Heavy metal and antibiotics resistant both affect environment and human health. Bacteria resist again heavy metal and antibiotics because of the resistant gene located in same cell. Resistance gene present in same plasmid which responsible for bacteria resistant to both heavy metals and antibiotics. Two-component study in Pseudomonas aeruginosa heavy metal and carbapenem resistance CzcR-CzcS, system involvement.[19]

  Effect of Industrial Waste Effluent on Agriculture Top

Many industries discharge their effluent directly or indirectly on river. That water can use in agriculture fields[20] so the contaminated water can affect the growth of the plant and production also evolved resistant bacteria and plants on field. Fertility of the soil can also affect by the contaminated waste water. Agriculture field irrigated with industrial effluent can developed various heavy metal and antibiotic resistant bacteria. Hence, the isolation and identification of bacteria are required to control the environmental pollution and further use of microorganism for bioremediation.

We have isolated the bacteria from industrial and agriculture waste waters. Among 70 samples, 43 bacteria were isolated. Gram-negative Pseudomonas sp. (Thirty-seven percentage), Shigella sp. (9%), Citrobacter freundii (21%) and Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus (5%), Staphylococcus epidermidis (19%) and Staphylococcus saprophyticus (9%) were identified from the study. From heavy metal sensitivity study, it was revealed that all the strains were Pb resistant and Hg sensitive. Both resistant and sensitive to chromium strains are also found. Similarly, from antibiotic sensitivity patens both sensitive and resistant cefepime strains were revealed [Figure 1] and [Figure 2].
Figure 1: Heavy metal resistance to the bacteria isolated from industrial effluents. Note: Ag: Silver, Cr: Chromium, Cu: Copper, Zn: Zinc, Pb: Lead and Hg: Mercury

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Figure 2: Antibiotic resistance to the bacteria isolated from industrial effluents

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  Conclusion Top

Industrial effluent and agricultural stagnant water contain heavy metal and antibiotic resistant bacteria. Those bacteria have developed special mechanism to tolerate heavy metal and antibiotics and resist against multiple heavy metal and antibiotic which is harmful to environment and human health. Whenever in future, these bacteria survive at the high concentration of metal and antibiotic. These bacteria have potential significance in drug development and clinical research.


The authors are grateful to Dr. K Sarkar, Director, ICMR-NIOH, Ahmedabad for providing extended facility in research.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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Barkay T, Miller SM, Summers AO. Bacterial mercury resistance from atoms to ecosystems. FEMS microbiology reviews. 2003;27:355-84.  Back to cited text no. 9
Cha JS, Cooksey DA. Copper resistance in Pseudomonas syringae mediated by periplasmic and outer membrane proteins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 1991;88:8915-9.  Back to cited text no. 10
Higham DP, Sadler PJ, Scawen MD. Effect of cadmium on the morphology, membrane integrity and permeability of Pseudomonas putida. Microbiology. 1986; 132:1475-82.  Back to cited text no. 11
Ianeva OD. Mechanisms of bacteria resistance to heavy metals. Mikrobiolohichnyizhurnal (Kiev, Ukraine: 1993). 2009;71:54-65.  Back to cited text no. 12
Li XZ, Nikaido H, Williams KE. Silver-resistant mutants of Escherichia coli display active efflux of Ag+ and are deficient in porins. Journal of bacteriology. 1997;179:6127-32.  Back to cited text no. 13
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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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