Interaction of Antibiotics and Humic Substances:\ Environmental Consequences and Remediation Prospects

Kulikova N.A., Solovyova A.A., Perminova I.V.

Molecules, 2022, , doi: 10.3390/molecules27227754


The occurrence and distribution of antibiotics in the environment has received increasing attention due to their potential adverse effects on human health and ecosystems. Humic substances (HS) influence the mobility, reactivity, and bioavailability of antibiotics in the environment significantly due to their interaction. As a result, HS can affect the dissemination of antibiotic-resistance genes, which is one of the main problems arising from contamination with antibiotics. The review provides quantitative data on the binding of HS with fluoroquinolones, macrolides, sulfonamides, and tetracyclines and reports the proposed mechanisms of their interaction. The main issues of the quantification of antibiotic–HS interaction are discussed, which are a development of standard approaches and the accumulation of a dataset using a standard methodology. This would allow the implementation of a meta-analysis of data to reveal the patterns of the binding of antibiotics to HS. Examples of successful development of humic-based sorbents for fluoroquinolone and tetracycline removal from environmental water systems or polluted wastewaters were given. Data on the various effects of HS on the dissemination of antibiotic-resistance genes (ARGs) were summarized. The detailed characterization of HS properties as a key point of assessing the environmental consequences of the formation of antibiotic–HS complexes, such as the dissemination of antibiotic resistance, was proposed.