Last month the review that Sankalp and I contributed to was published on line by Advances in Microbial Physiology. This review was led by Jon Hobman, with considerable writing by Chandan Pal. It is a real honour to have co-authored with the amazing Joakim Larsson. My own contribution was small: Sankalp contributed some review material on modelling, and I got stuck in with Joakim and Jon in the editing phase to ensure we had a coherent story. Overall, this is a very nice and timely review, and we have had a lot of interest in it already. Citation and abstract:
Pal C, Asiani K, Arya S, Rensing C, Stekel DJ, Larsson DGJ and Hobman JL 2017. Metal Resistance and Its Association With Antibiotic Resistance. Advances in Microbial Physiology. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.ampbs.2017.02.001.
Antibiotic resistance is recognised as a major global threat to public health by the World Health Organization. Currently, several hundred thousand deaths yearly can be attributed to infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The major driver for the development of antibiotic resistance is considered to be the use, misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals. Nonantibiotic compounds, such as antibacterial biocides and metals, may also contribute to the promotion of antibiotic resistance through co-selection. This may occur when resistance genes to both antibiotics and metals/biocides are co-located together in the same cell (co-resistance), or a single resistance mechanism (e.g. an efflux pump) confers resistance to both antibiotics and biocides/metals (cross-resistance), leading to co-selection of bacterial strains, or mobile genetic elements that they carry. Here, we review antimicrobial metal resistance in the context of the antibiotic resistance problem, discuss co-selection, and highlight critical knowledge gaps in our understanding.
Last night I had the enormous privilege of being on a panel following Lord Jim O’Neill’s lecture on AMR as part of the University of Nottingham’s Chancellor’s Lecture series.
It was a real coup for the university to have Jim O’Neill speak. It was a great event – well attended by alumni and many other’s. The lecture was brilliant: O’Neill is a very engaging speaker and spoke with confidence and passion on the findings of his report. He mainly focussed on the ten point plan:
It was especially interesting seeing AMR from the perspective of an economist: not just in quantifying the problem in monetary terms (his argument that $40B spend will save $100T costs is compelling) but also how he breaks down the solutions into ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ side solutions and especially his emphasis on the importance of reducing demand for antibiotics through 6 of his points. (I’m not sure where our emphasis on waste management fits into that – but that is another matter – and actually having an economist (Steve Ramsden) on our project also helps framing it).
Professor Liz Sockett kindly asked me to serve on the panel (along side Dr Mat Diggle from EmPath) – this was a new experience for me – I was a little nervous – but the questions were good and interesting. The first couple of questions were more clinically focussed and answered by Liz and Mat. A question came up about how we prevent rapid spread of resistance to any new antibiotics we might discover. Mat gave a good answer from a clinical perspective, and I was able to add that there would need to be very wise use (if at all) of any new clinically important antibiotics in veterinary use. (To be fair, that point is made in the O’Neill report anyway!) And then got a question direct to me about agricultural waste management practises in developing countries. This was a nice one – as I have recently visited China and then had visitors from South Africa. So I was able to speak about the challenges of AMR from pig farming in China – the Chinese government are very committed to environmental research and China has a very well-funded research programme; South Africa is also very interesting because there is a mix of modern farming where the challenge of reducing antibiotic use is similar to in the UK, and then traditional subsistence farming, where nutrition is the biggest challenge, and the antibiotic challenge is more about access to antibiotics rather than use reduction.
After the talk, many interesting people came to speak with me, which was really nice, while Professor Christine Dodd looked after our stand and she also received many questions.
Official photographs will follow. The photograph at the top is thanks to Adam Roberts (from his twitter feed).
We are now recruiting for two technician positions for the EVAL-FARMS project.
- Closing Date
- Friday, 28th October 2016
- Job Type
- Technical Services
- School of Biosciences – Technical Services
- £22249 to £26537 per annum (pro rata if applicable), depending on skills and experience. Salary progression beyond this scale is subject to performance
Applications are invited for the above full-time and part-time posts which are based within the School of Biosciences at the Sutton Bonington Campus.
The post is to provide technical support on a NERC funded research project “Evaluating the Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance in Agricultural Manures and Slurries”.
The role holder will assist with the collection of soil & slurry samples & processing the samples for microbiological, genomic, wet chemistry & water quality indicators and will require working off-site.
Duties will include:
- Processing samples for further analysis by LC-MS, ICP/AAS, PCR and microbiological analysis and culture,general microbiological analysis & culture at ACDP 2,assessing water quality indicators using UV vis spectrophotometer
- Ensuring stocks & equipment in own areas of responsibility are maintained & available for use.
- Maintaining a safe working environment in accordance with statutory & University Health & Safety procedures.
Full details can be found in the job description.
Candidates must have a HNC in a relevant subject or equivalent qualifications plus considerable relevant technical/scientific experience OR substantial work experience in a relevant technical or scientific role.
Candidates should have experience of working with ACDP 2 pathogens and proven technical and/or experimental expertise in techniques for water quality analysis including filtration, COD analysis, molecular biology & PCR technologies.
These posts are available as soon as possible on a fixed-term contract for a period of 15 months.
Informal enquiries may be addressed to: Dov Stekel tel: 0115 9516294 Or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that applications sent directly to this email address will not be accepted.
The University of Nottingham is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from all sections of the community.
We are looking for an excellent candidate for a PhD in Geospatial modelling the spread of antimicrobial resistance in the environment, funded by the NERC Envision doctoral training programme, supervised jointly by myself, Stuart Marsh (Nottingham Geospatial Institute), Malcolm Bennett (School of Veterinary Medicine and Science) and Andrew Singer (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology). Details of the project are below. Please apply by 6th January on http://www.envision-dtp.org/portal/apply.php.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major global challenge. It is estimated that globally 700,000 human deaths per year are due to AMR, predicted to rise to 10 million by 2050. While much research is in medical/agricultural contexts, the spread of AMR in the environment is often neglected. Antimicrobials and antimicrobial resistant genes (ARGs) and organisms have sources in agriculture and wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), which are spread on land through slurry, manures or sewage sludge, or released directly into rivers. Soil and water polluted by antimicrobials and resistant bacteria can impact crops, animals and humans. Thus, AMR presents both an environmental and human health hazard.
Our vision is to develop mathematical models that can predict AMR spread in the environment. Such modelling will require numerous factors, including: prevalence of ARGs and the relative role of different AMR sources, pathways, drivers and receptors. These models would be used to inform policy on the priorities for controlling AMR in agriculture and the wider natural environment and on the most appropriate specific actions following an outbreak of an AMR pathogen. They will also help prioritise AMR surveillance. Most mathematical modelling for the environmental spread of AMR operates locally, e.g. in a slurry tank, field soil or a WWTP, or a smaller still, e.g. a biofilm. A challenge is to develop predictive models at much larger environmental scales.
This PhD project will begin to address this challenge, by following four novel modelling approaches: incorporation of the heterogeneity of AMR agents; using a combination of deterministic and stochastic models to account for both microscopic and population level scales; up-scaling the current approaches to an environmental scale by using methods developed for geospatial modelling of pollutants; and calibrating the models with geospatially explicit environmental AMR surveillance data from our projects and those of our collaborators.
Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in any relevant scientific discipline with considerable quantitative component (mathematics, physics, computer science, engineering). They must be able to evidence excellent mathematical and computer programming skills, a willingness to work across multi-disciplinary boundaries, including physical geography and microbiology.
Full studentships are available to UK/EU candidates who’ve been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the 3-year period immediately preceding the date of an award. EU candidates who’ve not been resident in the UK for the last 3-years are eligible for “tuition fees-only” awards (no maintenance grant).
We are delighted to have been awarded a small grant of £25k from an internal distribution of EPSRC Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) to the University of Nottingham. We will be working with
Professor Yong-guan Zhu from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen, to build statistical models for the spread of AMR genes and organisms in the Chinese environment. The money will find a talented post-doc, Laurence Shaw, to join our lab for 6 months from later this year. Young-guan and colleagues have carried out extensive and impressive AMR surveillance work so this is a very exciting opportunity. We are very much looking forward to working with Yong-guan and Laurence on this project.
Today we ran a successful antimicrobial resistance in agriculture (agri-AMR) at University of Nottingham’s annual public engagement activity, May Fest. The activity was fairly simple. The children were looking for bacteria in a “slurry tank”. The slurry tank was a ball pit with plastic balls and some (mostly relevant) giant microbes. One particularly special microbe is the plush GFP E. coli which my wife made which today was acting as a multi-resistant E. coli pathogen. The children were given lab coats, safety glasses and a fishing net, and had to collect samples from the tank to pass to our scientists for analysis. We used a light panel for that. Children were then awarded a prize and/or chocolate cow pats (Montezuma chocolate buttons).
We only ran it for two hours and were inundated from start to finish! We had 60 prizes and they all went. The children – including our own – clearly had a lot of fun! We also had some information sheets for the parents about the research that we (a very collective we) do that went down very well and sparked some interesting conversations.
Special thanks go to research students Ishan Ajmera and Sankalp Arya for helping out at the stand – they were awesome and I couldn’t have managed without them. Susie Lydon for arranging the stall and provision of ball-pit balls; Cath Rees for provision of giant microbes, SGM poster, safety glasses, adult lab coats and lots of great ideas; and my wife Di Levine for fishing nets and more great ideas; and my own children for their help and lively participation.
Action photograph showing the slurry tank and analysis of its content!