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University of Reading Featured PhD Programmes

Antimicrobial resistance in marine mammals


Environmental Science

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Dr Gera Troisi Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This project addresses an urgent Global Challenge – the growing widespread incidence of anti-microbial resistance (AMR). It will be the first to investigate an unreported alarming concern, that wild seals are dying off from AMR bacterial infections and mortality is greater in more polluted waters. Recent evidence suggests industrial pollutants are a more plausible explanation of the widespread global problem of AMR bacteria not the over-use of antibiotics in medicine. Furthermore, industrial pollutants are immunosuppressive, in mammals including humans, so highly contaminated individuals will be more susceptible to infections. Pollutants and antibiotics contaminate the marine food chain via industrial and municipal (including hospital) wastewater discharges. Seals are invaluable surrogates for humans, sharing similar physiology and both being top predators of the same food chain, causing them to be exposed to the same biomagnified concentrations of persistent industrial pollutants and aquatic bacteria. This project will involve the quantification of pollutants and antibiotic concentrations and identify most prevalent and pathogenic AMR bacteria in samples from seals from more polluted waters and neighbouring populations from cleaner waters. Also, pollutants and antibiotics in sediment cores from study areas will be analysed. This work will tell us which types of AMR bacteria in estuarine sediments “infect” aquatic food-chains from which our food is derived; whether current estuary pollution levels increase AMR development and spread; and lastly if AMR infection rates and associated mortality are elevated in more contaminated populations of wild seals.

Please include in your CV details of modules taken in your UG and/or MSc courses (if applicable) with grades; and a list of field and lab skills you have developed.

Funding Notes

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. Recently the UK Government made available the Doctoral Student Loans of up to £25,000 for UK and EU students and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.)


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