Project Title: Temporal Assessment of Antimicrobial Resistance in the Environment (TARE)
Researcher: Julie O'Donovan
One of the biggest global threats to human health is Antimicrobial resistance. Through the analysis of lake cores from Lough Muckno, Co. Monaghan this project assesses i) the impact of the shift in Irish agriculture - from a traditional crop/pasture rotational system to modern and intensive pastures and ii) the impact of human sewage discharge on both faecal pollution (via E. coli) and the antimicrobial susceptibly profiles of faecal bacteria in the aquatic environment. TARE is the first study to assess the evolution of antibiotic resistance from a spatiotemporal perspective in an environment impacted by both human and agricultural waste.
Through the application of the paleo-limnological “toolset” TARE reconstructs past lake conditions. The analysis of lake core samples spanning the last ~ 80 years, from Lough Muckno, Co. Monaghan which is influenced by significant urban and agricultural environmental pressures, as well as through antimicrobial susceptibility analysis on the cultured E. coli isolates, producing a high-resolution and chronologically-constrained record of AMR prevalence which can be used to answer the following questions:
(a) Have trends in E. coli deposition in the lake environment changed within the 20th and 21st century? If so, can trends be ascribed to humans or animals within the lake catchment?
(b) Is the advent and intensification of antibiotic usage in agriculture in the 20th and 21st Century reflected in the susceptibility profiles of E. coli in lake sediments? And, if so, how quickly did resistance develop?
(c) Has improved wastewater treatment infrastructure had any impact on the dissemination of E. coli and antibiotic resistance in lake sediments?
(d) What risk factors can be identified that are associated with the development of antibiotic resistance in E. coli in lake sediments?