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EDAR6 - Count down webinar series

To provide a flavour of the science to be covered at EDAR6, we welcome everyone to attend the monthly EDAR6 countdown webinar series.

The Count down Webinar Series

Feb 22, Ed Topp Professor

Mar 23, Yong-Guan Zhu Professor

Apr 20, Kornelia Smalla, Professor

May 17, James Tiedje, Professor

Jun 15, Tong Zhang, Professor

Jul - Break

Aug 10, Joakim Larsson, Professor


To attend register below

Professor Ed Topp, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Seminar Title: EDAR1 to EDAR6, what progress has been made?

Date and time: 22 Feb, 14:00 (CET)


See the webinar here

Ed Topp BIO:

Bio- Ed is a Principal Research Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and has affiliations with the University of Western Ontario, the Ontario Veterinary College, and the University of Florida. A native of Montréal, Ed obtained his PhD from the Department of Microbiology at the University of Minnesota. Ed’s research concerns the interface between agriculture and human and environmental health. In the last decade he has notably led several national studies concerning the fate and management in agro-ecosystems of pharmaceuticals and pathogenic and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. He is the project coordinator for the Genomics Research and Development Initiative project on antimicrobial resistance, a key component of the innovation pillar of the Canadian Federal Framework for Action on antimicrobial resistance. He is a Past-President [2011] of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists.


Seminar abstract: EDAR1 to EDAR6, what progress has been made?

The first EDAR meeting was held in Canada in 2012. This presentation will highlight the progress that has been made on the environmental dimension of AMR in the decade since in the research, regulatory and policy realms, as well as some key gaps that remain to be resolved.


Professor Yong-Guan Zhu, Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Urban Environment

Seminar Title: AMR in soil-plant systems

Date and time: 23 Mar, 14:00 (CET)


See the webinar here


Yong-Guan Zhu BIO:

Prof Yongguan (Yong-Guan) Zhu, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Fellow of TWAS (The World Academy of Sciences), Professor of environmental biology and environmental soil science, is currently the Science Director of the Institute of Urban Environment, and also a professor at the Research Centre for Eco-environmental Sciences, CAS. Professor Zhu is a leader in taking multi-scale and multi-disciplinary approaches to soil and environmental problems. He obtained his PhD in environmental biology from Imperial College, London in 1998. Dr Zhu is currently the founding editor of Soil Ecology Letters, and editorial members for a few other international journals. He is a scientific committee member for the ISC (International Science Council) program on Human Health and Wellbeing in Changing Urban Environment, and served for nine years as a member of Standing Advisory Group for Nuclear Application, International Atomic Energy Agency (2004-2012). Professor Zhu is the recipient of many merit awards, among them including TWAS Award for Agricultural Science 2013, National Natural Science Award 2009. Professor Zhu has published over 450 papers in international journals (such as Science, Nature, PNAS, Nature Microbiology, Nature Plants), with an H-index of 103 (Web of Science). He was selected as a Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher (2016-2020).

Professor Dr. Dr. h.c.  Kornelia Smalla, Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics at the Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, in Braunschweig


Seminar Title: Plasmid-mediated adaptation of soil and plant bacteria to antibiotics introduced via organic fertilizers into plant production systems


Date and time: 20 Apr, 14:00 (CEST)

See Webinar here

Kornelia Smalla BIO:

Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Kornelia Smalla is the head of the microbial ecology group in the Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics at the Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, in Braunschweig. She studied chemistry and did her PhD in biochemistry at the Martin-Luther-University in Halle. The venia legendi for microbiology was obtained at the Technical University Braunschweig where she is an adjunct Professor for Microbiology. From the beginning of the 1990’s Kornelia Smalla contributed to the new field of molecular microbial ecology. The development of cultivation-independent methods to study microbial communities in complex environments and their response to pollutants such as antibiotics is a major theme of her work. Her long-term research interests are unraveling factors that shape the soil and plant microbiomes, the transferable resistome and plasmid-mediated bacterial adaptation to changing environments.

Kornelia Smalla has a h-index of 68 and was selected as highly cited researcher based on Clarivate Analytics in 2021.

In 2015, Kornelia Smalla organized EDAR-3 in Wernigerode, Germany. She is a member of the International scientific board of EDAR. Furthermore she serves in the JPI-AMR scientific advisory board.

Professor James M. Tiedje

Michigan State University

Seminar Title: Drilling down on environmental ARG risk

Date and time: May 17 at 14:00 (CEST)


See webinar here

James M. Tiedje BIO

Dr. James Tiedje is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University and was the founding Director of the NSF Center for Microbial Ecology. His research focused on microbial ecology, physiology and diversity, especially of denitrification, biodegradation of environmental pollutants, metagenomics and antibiotic resistance. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, is Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He served as president of the American Society for Microbiology and the International Society for Microbial Ecology. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University.


Seminar abstract: Drilling down on environmental ARG risk

It is now widely recognized that antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes are widespread in the environment, but it is more difficult to discern which ones pose serious risk.  Some are part of the normal indigenous microbiota, some may be introduced pathogens, some may be on mobile elements in commensal bacteria, some may be emerging new resistances due to recent selection. One approach to resolve the uncertainty of risk, is to focus on those features that are central to risk, i.e. are the resistance genes on mobile elements, are they in pathogens or a close relative, are they linked to additional resistances, is their sequence identical to or very close to demonstrated resistances, is there any demonstration of functional resistance. Long read sequencing is a technology that can address several of these criteria, and its use along with other methods to improve assessment of degree of risk will be presented in several environmental studies.

Professor Tong Zhang, Chair Professor of Environmental Engineering in Environmental Microbiome Engineering and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, at The University of Hong Kong (HKU).

Seminar Title: Assess the risk of antimicrobial resistance genes using meta genomics methods

Date and time: 15 June, 14:00 (CEST)


See webinar here

Tong Zhang BIO:

Dr. Tong ZHANG is a Chair Professor of Environmental Engineering in Environmental Microbiome Engineering and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, at The University of Hong Kong (HKU). His researches include environmental microbiome engineering and biotechnology, environmental bioinformatics, anaerobic digestion and bioenergy from wastes/wastewater, biological wastewater treatment (N removal and P recovery), biodegradation of emerging pollutants (antibiotics, PPCP and EDCs), antibiotic and antibiotic resistance genes, etc.  He has been listed as “Highly Cited Researcher” by Clarivate in 2018 (Cross Field), 2019 (Environment and Ecology), both 2020 and 2021 (Environment and Ecology; Microbiology).


Seminar abstract: Assess the risk of antimicrobial resistance genes using meta genomics methods

Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) are widespread among bacteria in the environment. Metagenomic has been widely used to generate the profile of ARGs in the environment and study the horizontal genes transfers under different scenarios. However, not all ARGs pose serious threats to public health, highlighting the importance of identifying those that are high-risk in the environment.  Omics-based framework has been proposed to assess ARG risk considering human-associated-enrichment, gene mobility, and host pathogenicity, providing an easy-to-implement approach to identify current and future antimicrobial resistance threats, with potential clinical applications including reducing risk of microbiome-based interventions.


Professor Joakim Larsson

Webinar title: An overview of the environment’s role in evolution, transmission and surveillance of antibiotic resistance

Date and time: 10 Aug, 14:00 (CET)


See webinar here

Joakim Larsson BIO

Joakim Larsson is a Professor in Environmental Pharmacology at the Department of Infectious Diseases, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and the director for the multidisciplinary Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research (CARe) at University of Gothenburg, involving +100 researchers from six faculties. He is also on the scientific advisory board for the JPIAMR. The focus of his own research group is on the environmental dimensions of antibiotic resistance and he has (co)-authored more than 190 papers to date (listed as highly cited researchers by Clarivate since 2018). His earlier work on environmental pollution from drug manufacturing and his research on selective concentrations of antibiotics has contributed to various management initiatives across the world. Larsson is the chair of the upcoming EDAR6 conference.



The role of the environment in antibiotic resistance development has become more and more recognised among both the scientific community and stakeholders. Thousands of scientific papers describe widespread occurrence of antibiotic residues, resistant bacteria and resistance genes in various environments. Accordingly, policy makers call for actions to reduce exposures. Still, perspectives on exactly how or to what extent observations of antibiotics, resistant bacteria or resistance genes in the environment indeed reflect an impact on or a risk for human and animal health are often lacking.

The environment plays at least three conceptually different roles in antibiotic resistance. The first is as an arena for the evolution of resistance in pathogens. Indeed, the most striking feature of the environmental microbiome is its immense diversity, providing an almost endless palette of genetic mechanisms that potentially could be acquired and used by pathogens to counteract the effect of antibiotics. The second role of the environment is not related to changes in DNA but merely the transmission of resistant pathogens that are already circulating widely among people and/or domestic animals. These two, evolution and transmission, could be seen as “active roles” where processes in the environment will affect the risks for the development and spread of resistant infections. More recently, it has been acknowledged that the abundance and pattern of resistance in environmental microbiota, particularly sewage, could serves as a passive reflection of the resistance situation in the local human, or animal, populations. A fourth role, not covered in this talk, is as a source for novel antibiotic molecules and thus drug development. 

Our understanding of, and the evidence base for the three first roles, is fragmented. Here, I will attempt to structure the different risk scenarios, and discuss the evidence for each of the steps involved, based on both field- and experimental observations. I will also discuss methods for studying antibiotic resistance in the environment, particularly in terms of how likely surrogate endpoints are to reflect outcomes of concern (validity). Finally, I will discuss some possibly measures to reduce risks, and describe some recent mitigations.