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Antibiotics in agriculture - Assessing the impacts of wastewater irrigation on soil health, antimicrobial resistance and crop production

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Why is this project important?
Large amounts of antibiotics are used globally for human and animal treatment. These substances are released to agricultural soils directly through animal excreta, via manure or sewage sludge when applied as fertiliser, and by irrigation of wastewater. Their presence in agricultural soils have been shown to affect microbial communities, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in soils, soil function and crop production. However, this evidence base is largely limited to a small proportion of the antibiotics used in human and veterinary medicine. Moreover, wastewater irrigation may result in long-term antibiotic exposure, which is likely to further increase in future due to increased summer droughts.
This project aims to assess the implications of long-term exposure of agricultural soils to a wide range of antibiotics (single and in mixtures) resulting from irrigation with treated wastewater for 1) soil processes including greenhouse gas emissions, the underpinning microbial communities, and soil chemistry, 2) crop development, yield and quality, and 3) AMR.

What’s in it for you?
This interdisciplinary project will involve field and lab-based experiments using state-of-the-art techniques and approaches to unravel the effects of the unintended impacts of antibiotics introduced to agricultural soils by irrigation with treated wastewater on soil microbial communities, soil function, AMR and crop yields.

You will be part of an experienced, dynamic and complementary research team at the University of York and the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology (Wallingford), who are at the forefront of research on the fate and effects of antibiotics in ecosystems, AMR, microbial ecology, and greenhouse gas flux research.

This studentship will provide you with excellent training and guidance in experimental design, field and lab experiments, microbial approaches, greenhouse gas flux measurements, soil and plant analyses, and dissemination of your experimental results during meetings and conferences.

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