Wastewater treatment plants as critical reservoirs for resistance genes (Gene-gas)





Multiresistant bacteria are a severe problem to modern healthcare. The problem is increasing and development of novel technologies to cope with this critical situation is a necessity. Solutions include novel antibiotic drugs as well as reducing the spread of resistance genes in the environment.

Completed project

Antimicrobial resistance is a worldwide problem, and many bacteria have now developed resistance towards even last-resort antibiotics. Despite significant attempts to limit this development more and more infections are identified as resistant to the treatment in hospitals. Much effort has been put into understanding the spread of resistance, and treatment thereof, within a hospital setting. It is only quite recently that an understanding that we need to also take in the environment, and development of resistance in such a setting in what now is called a One Health Approach has dawned.

Not only is the presence of resistance in hospitals important, but of equal importance is the presence of free antibiotics in nature, usage of antibiotics for food industry, handling of wastewater etc for the spread of antibiotic resistance. The wastewater treatment plants have been shown to be a hotspot for development of antibiotic resistance due to the high prevalence of bacteria and viruses there, as well as high levels of antibiotics. This will favor resistant bacteria, and exchange of resistance between microbes. A key player in this perspective are the bacterial viruses (bacteriophages) that can act as a transmission vehicle and transfer resistance between different bacteria. Our research aims at understanding the mechanisms underlying these transmission dynamics, and develop means to limit it.

Project partners

  • Rolf Lood, Lund University, Sweden (Coordinator)
  • Bo Mattiasson, Lund University, Sweden
  • Kurt Fuurstedt, Statens Serum Institute, Denmark
  • Roald Kommedal, University of Stavanger, Norway

Project resources