The emergence and global dissemination of antibiotic resistant bacteria pose a serious threat to public health. The environment contributes to these processes in two ways - as a transmission route for certain resistant bacterial pathogens, and as a source for antibiotic resistance genes and resistance plasmids that over time are recruited into human pathogens through horizontal gene transfer.
Several knowledge gaps will be addressed
This multidisciplinary project address several critical knowledge gaps related to the environmental dimensions of antibiotic resistance. We aim to:
- Understand the origin and evolution of antibiotic resistance, i.e. in what species and from what environments they likely were mobilized and transferred
- Identify already mobilized resistance genes to last-resort antibiotics that have not (yet) been described in pathogens.
- Understand drivers and mechanisms of resistance evolution (selection, mobilization, transfer) in the environment.
- Provide an economic analysis of the costs and benefits of environmental interventions.
- Analyze incentives and counterincentives for such mitigations.
Filling these knowledge gaps will significantly improve our scientific understanding of what role the environment plays in the emergence and dissemination of antibiotic resistance. It would also aid in scaling and directing measures to effectively manage resistance threats arising from the environment. In that way, the proposed research will benefit long-term, public health.