Phage treatment and wetland technology as intervention strategy to prevent dissemination of antibiotic resistance in surface waters (PhageLand)





PhageLand is aimed to develop a novel intervention strategy combining the low-cost and eco-friendly capacity of constructed wetlands with the specificity of bacteriophages (i.e., viruses killing bacteria) to prevent the dissemination of antibiotic resistance from wastewater into surface waters.

PhageLand will investigate the prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacterial pathogens (ARB) in low-middle income countries (LMICs) in Eastern Europe, which will be then used as targets for the development of a dedicated phage-based treatment for their specific removal from communal wastes.

In parallel, PhageLand will assess: a) the purification capacity of two reference, full-scale constructed wetlands operating in Spain and Moldova in the removal of antibiotic residues, ARB and antibiotic resistance genes; and b) the potential risk associated with the dissemination of these biological pollutants within indigenous bacterial communities and among animals inhabiting constructed wetlands.

Finally, PhageLand will develop a pilot plant to scale-up the phage-wetland combined technology to assess its performance under real environmental conditions. This proof-of-concept will be used to demonstrate the efficacy of this nature-based technology for the removal of multidrug-resistant pathogens from communal wastes and to encourage stakeholders for its implementation in wastewater treatment to prevent the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance. The PhageLand technology will be particularly useful in LMICs, where costly and power-demanding treatment plants are difficult to set up.

Project partners

  • Carles Borrego, Catalan Institute for Water Research, Spain (Coordinator)
  • Lukasz Dziewit, University of Warsaw, Poland
  • Malgorzata Grzesiuk-Bieniek, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland
  • Rob Lavigne, KU Leuven, Belgium
  • Evelien Adriaenssens, Quadram Institute Bioscience, United Kingdom
  • David Weissbrodt, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
  • Alina Ferdohleb, Nicolae Testemitanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Moldova