The impact of Host restriction of Escherichia coli on Transmission dynamics and spread of antimicrobial Resistance (HECTOR)

The prevalence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is increasing rapidly worldwide, including in bacteria colonizing healthy human and animal populations. The recent reports of plasmid mediated colistin resistance, potentially associated with colistin usage in agriculture, further raise fears of infections that have become untreatable due to AMR.

Ongoing project

The commensal flora of humans and animals is a reservoir of AMR encoding genes and Escherichia coli in particular can carry multiple AMR determinants. Antimicrobial resistance transmission within E. coli appears dominated by certain lineages. To what extent these are restricted to certain host species is unknown. Such host restriction may be an important determinant of the likelihood of transmission of resistant E. coli between different reservoirs, such as between animal and human hosts. The identification of determinants that allow disentanglement of the different modes of resistance transmission (i.e. bacteria vs mobile genetic elements such as plasmids) is crucial for a more targeted design of interventions to prevent and reduce transmission of resistance.

The proposed research aims to identify determinants of host restriction of E. coli and their potential association with antimicrobial resistance transmission and prevalence. We propose a One Health approach using mixed methods, including whole genome sequencing of a large collection of E. coli isolates from human, animal and environmental sources in different geographic areas across Europe and in Vietnam, experimental models to study the role of host restriction determinants in transmission and bacterial fitness, and mathematical modelling.


Project partners

  • Constance Schultsz, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands (Coordinator)
  • Christian Menge, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Germany
  • Torsten Semmler, Robert Koch Institute, Germany
  • Roberto Marcello La Regione, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
  • Lucas Domínguez Rodríguez, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
  • Stefan Schwarz, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
  • Ngo Thi Hoa, University of Oxford, United Kingdom