EVAL-FARMS: Evaluating the Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance in Agricultural Manures and Slurries

Today NERC announced that our £1.5M AMR grant has been funded. We are very excited!

First thing to say is that it was a total team effort. I am embarrassed by the fact that only my name is listed on the announcement – it really would have been impossible without the expertise, intelligence, energy, commitment and open spirit of collaboration of my totally awesome colleagues: Jon Hobman, Rachel Gomes, Helen West, Sujatha Raman, Jan Kreft, Stephen Ramsden, Christine Dodd, Chris Thomas, Mike Jones, Andrew Millard, Richard Emes, David Barrett,  Carol Morris, Theodore Kypraios and Chris Hudson. And then the support we received: pump priming  for research from the schools of Biosciences, Pharmacy and Engineering, and for a grant-writing retreat from the University of Nottingham; writing support from Emma Allaway, Chris Satterley, Zoe Wilson and especially Diane Levine; and the enthusiasm of an array of external stakeholders from industry and policy, including NFU, BCVA, Velcourt, Lindhurst Engineering, DEFRA (VMD and APHA), FSA, JHI amd Severn Trent Water.

Project details (summarized from the Case for Support)

Our vision is to establish a strategic research programme in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in waste from agricultural farm environments. Our aim is to quantify and mitigate the risks of emergence of resistant pathogens and AMR gene reservoirs associated with mixing antimicrobials with waste matter in these environments.

The project is focussed on the University of Nottingham’s (UoN) dairy and arable farm, which is typical of high performance UK dairy production, with ~200 high yielding cows. Slurry is stored in a 3M L slurry tank and subsequently spread on surrounding fields. We hypothesise that conditions in the slurry tank environment drive the evolution and acquisition of antimicrobial resistance, and the slurry acts as a reservoir for AMR that is regularly distributed into the environment

The project consists of six integrated Research Questions:

RQ1: What are the levels and nature of antimicrobial and virulence genes present in the slurry tank, their prevalence, carriage, and bacterial hosts?

RQ2: What are the chemical agents in the tank? What is their persistence?

RQ3: To what extent is resistance maintained after slurry application to soil?

RQ4: How can we elicit culturally embedded ways in which scientists and stakeholders know AMR risks? How can we use narrative and visual methods of engaging across these ways of knowing to develop resources for deliberation on AMR risk management?

RQ5: To what extent can we reduce resistance profiles through changes in slurry tank composition?

RQ6: Can we quantify the risk of emergence of AMR pathogens and what factors are predicted to control this risk best?

The first three posts will be advertised shortly. These will be 24 month post-docs in microbiology (supervised by Jon Hobman and Christine Dodd), pharmaceutical analysis (supervised by Rachel Gomes and David Barrett) and a 36 month 60% post-doc in cultural research (supervised by Sujatha Raman and Carol Morris). In practise, these posts will work across the different Research Questions in the grant, so the postdocs will interact with the full team. Technician posts to follow a little after, and a modelling postdoc will start in January 2018. There will also be three associated PhD studentships (pharmaceutical analysis, social research, mathematical modelling) to start in September 2017.

We have also developed an infographic to help explain how conditions in slurry could lead to emergence and selection for AMR bacteria. Here it is:





6 thoughts on “EVAL-FARMS: Evaluating the Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance in Agricultural Manures and Slurries

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