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How do discharged antibiotics influence environmental antibiotic resistance?

Project Description

The growing risk of antibiotic resistance threatens the advancements in healthcare made over the past 50 years. The environmental burden of antibiotic resistance is increasingly recognised as a contributor to the global resistance threat. Human use and consumption of antibiotics result in a fraction of unmetabolised drug passing through the patient. As this unmetabolised material is cleared from the patient it inevitably results in antibiotics being dispersed into the sewer system where they are subjected to bulk wastewater treatments such as activated sludge, anaerobic digestion and trickle-bed filters, which all utilise the biological activity of microbial communities. Treated material, often in the form of anaerobic digestate can then be applied to land as a nitrogen-rich fertiliser or finished treated wastewater, which can be used as alternative for freshwater irrigation in drought stressed regions.
Microbial communities will be sampled throughout the wastewater treatment process from arrival on site to discharge and in digestate and soils where this material is used to determine whether these drugs result in additional antimicrobial resistance (AMR) within environmental microbial communities. This project will utilise a range of molecular techniques to determine the concentrations, fate and influence of discharged antibiotics on the microbial communities that come into contact with this disposal route. Antibiotic concentrations will be measured using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry methods and the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance genes assessed using qPCR and NGS methods. Different wastewater treatment methods will be assessed for their effects on antibiotic removal and potential to propagate AMR genes through microbial populations.

Funding Notes

This is a studentship fully funded for three years and covers: (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£15,009 estimated for 2020 entry), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate.

Interviews will take place in May 2020 on a date to be confirmed. The PhD start date is 1st October 2020.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Students applying for postgraduate study in our Department should normally have obtained an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent). If your first language is not English you will need to show evidence that you meet our English language requirements. We welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions.

ELIGIBILITY: This studentship is available to UK/EU students only.

How good is research at University of York in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.37

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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