Project: Biodiversity as an ecological barrier for the spread of clinically relevant antibiotic resistance in the environment

Acronym ANTIVERSA (Reference Number: 380)
Duration 01/02/2020 - 31/01/2023
Project Topic With 10 million death per year worldwide expected by 2050, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is now considered by all major international organizations to be one of the most challenging threats for humankind. This is due to the international occurrence of AMR, its high health impact as well as deep economic and social implications. The ANTIVERSA project explores the links between AMR and biodiversity specifically in freshwater and soil ecosystems. The project aims to answer the question of whether biologically diverse ecosystems have a greater capacity to prevent or delay the spread of AMR compared to low-diversity environments. Important societal trends of globalization and urbanization are likely to increase the pressure on water and terrestrial resources in the future. Studying whether high biodiversity in urbanized systems also results in ecosystems that contain less potential pathogens (specifically less bacteria carrying antibiotic resistance genes) is crucial. Consequently, the project experimentally tests the hypothesis that the level of biodiversity of the microbial communities affects the invasion success of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARBs). This will be tested based on exposed naturally assembled freshwater and soil communities differing in microbial diversity. The experiments will be conducted in a harmonized procedure such that a variation of diversity of seven nations in Central Europe will be tested for freshwater sediments and soil. In addition to the above described diversity, microbial communities with differing past exposure to anthropogenic impacts will be chosen. The experiments follow and increasing complexity from the exposure to cultured single ARB strains to the exposure of wastewater treatment effluent and pig manure for varying temperature settings. Furthermore, selected sites will be monitored for their biodiversity and abundance of ARGs and ARBs in order to test for a (negative) correlation of the microbial community biodiversity and ARG and ARB abundance in the field. Additionally, indicators for water and soil quality and human health will be monitored. This will aid the development of regulations on maintaining water and soil quality. The project recognizes the importance of socio-economic aspects of microbial resistance and biodiversity and therefore includes important communication and social-scientific elements. It addresses several stakeholders as well the general public who are – to some degree – involved in an increasing discharge of various pollutants, including antibiotic resistant bacteria. The water and soil resources provide ecosystem services that are important for the society and the economy alike. The present research project is located at the nexus of the sectors listed above and will test an aspect of maintaining biodiversity that may become even more clear and reveal a hitherto unappreciated ecosystem service.
Network BiodivERsA3
Call 2018-2019 Joint Call

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Technische Universität Dresden Coordinator Germany
2 Maynooth University Partner Ireland
3 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Université de Lorraine Partner France
4 Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety Partner Austria
5 Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology Partner Switzerland
6 Institute of Biological Research Cluj, branch of INCDSB Bucharest Partner Romania
7 University of Warsaw, Faculty of Biology Partner Poland
8 Stadtentwaesserung Dresden GmbH Partner Germany