The role of the environment in the selection and evolution of antibiotic resistance
This project combines classical bacterial culturing, metagenomic DNA sequencing, bioinformatics analyses, advanced molecular biology, X-ray crystallography and analytical chemistry to address three core knowledge gaps in this evolutionary process.
Project funded by the Swedish Research Council VR (Medicine and Health) (5.6 MSEK) and the Swedish Research Council FORMAS (3 MSEK/year) for the period 2019-2021. The project is led by Joakim Larsson in collaboration with Carl-Fredrik Flach and Rosmarie Friemann (University of Gothenburg), Erik Kristiansson(Chalmers), and Jerker Fick (Umeå university).
The rapidly evolving problem with antibiotic resistant bacteria has emerged as one of the most severe threats to public health globally. It is recognized that environmental bacteria provide a high diversity of antibiotic resistance genes that evolved long before mankind started to use antibiotics as clinical agents. Over the past decades, however, pathogens have acquired more and more resistance determinants through horizontal gene transfer under a selection pressure from antibiotics. This project combines classical bacterial culturing, metagenomic DNA sequencing, bioinformatics analyses, advanced molecular biology, X-ray crystallography and analytical chemistry to address three core knowledge gaps in this evolutionary process. These are: 1) Understanding the relevance of environmental antibiotic pollution from different sources in the selection of resistance 2) Clarifying the evolutionary origin of antibiotic resistance genes, including mechanisms involved, i.e. learning from history about where the risks for transfer are greatest, and 3) Improving our knowledge of the environmental antibiotic resistance reservoir, with particular focus on those that have acquired mobility. The proposed research aim to better understand of the role of the environment in the evolution of antibiotic resistant pathogens, and ultimately also inform management.