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Understanding antibiotic resistance evolution in the environment


Project Description

Tens of thousands of tons of antimicrobial compounds are used across the globe for the treatment of humans and animals. During this process, antibiotics are released to the natural environment from the manufacturing process, human wastewaters, disposal of medical wastes and animal manures. Growing evidence suggest that the release of antibiotics to these natural environments creates a significant selection pressure for the evolution and emerge of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Moreover, it has recently been shown that antibiotic resistance can evolve even at very low antibiotic concentrations typical for non-clinical environments and that simultaneous exposure to multiple antibiotics can speed up the resistance evolution. Regardless, the risk of antibiotic resistance evolving under these conditions is not recognized by current safety discharge limits. The proposed PhD project will experimentally study the evolution of antibiotic resistance using realistic antibiotic concentrations and combinations typical for natural river systems. The research objectives are to:

O1. Identify antibiotic combinations that together select for evolution of antibiotic resistance even at low concentrations

O2. Employ genome sequencing to unravel key mechanisms underlying resistance evolution

O3. Re-evaluate current safe antibiotic discharge limits based on antibiotic resistance (O1) and global river sampling survey data of known antibiotic combinations and concentrations in global river network.

Experimental work will use a combination of in vitro microcosm experiments and genome sequencing to determine antibiotic resistance evolution of key clinical pathogens (P. aeruginosa, E. coli, S. aureus) under a range of antibiotic combinations in sublethal concentrations. The project will also build upon global river sampling survey that has determined the prevalence of antibiotics globally. An ideal candidate will have a background in at least one of the main subject areas (microbiology, experimental evolution, pathology, environmental chemistry) and willingness to develop skills in the other areas.

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.

References

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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