Preventing and reducing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a critical societal goal, which is evidenced by various Cross-Council Initiatives in the UK. One solution is reducing the spread of AMR and resistance genes (ARGs) in domestic wastes through effective wastewater treatment. Although treatment technologies exist that can reduce ARGs (e.g., aerobic biological processes), these options may not be adequate in the future. Therefore, it is critical we proactively assess the effectiveness of other treatment options for reducing ARG levels downstream of existing treatment units.
This studentship will combine state-of-the-art AR metagenomics (i.e., resistomics), and lab and pilot- scale testing to quantify the effectiveness of different tertiary treatment options for reducing ARGs in domestic wastewater. The work will straddle world-leading AMR research at Newcastle University and Thames Water (TW) to quantify the types, levels and diversity of ARGs that enter and exit different tertiary technologies, including disinfections. ARG mass balances also will be developed for “typical” treatment plants to place potential tertiary treatment into a practical AMR context.
This studentship will collate existing literature on relationships among treatment technologies and ARG reduction; operate lab and pilot reactors employing different treatment options; and employ multiplex qPCR and metagenomic sequencing to characterise ARG traits among technologies. The student will spend at least six months based with TW working with their advanced oxidation pilot facilities and also short periods in China where some resistomic analyses will be performed.