PROJECTE REST-RESIST: Antibiotics of restricted use and corresponding resistant genes: tracking their emergence and fate in the environment and assessing natural and engineered attenuation processes to mitigate their spread


Agència de Gestió d'Ajuts Universitaris (AGAUR); Código: Beatriu de Pinós 2019 BP 00007.




Institut Català de Recerca de l'Aigua


Dr. Sara Rodríguez Mozaz


Dr. Victoria Osorio Torrens, Dr. Jose Luís Balcázar


144.300,00 €

Keywords: Antibiotics, Antibiotic Resistant Genes, Environment, Analytical chemistry, Molecular biology, attenuation processes, transformation products, removal, remediation

Emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance (AR) due to extensive use of antibiotics (ABs) −particularly in livestock− is an issue of major concern in Europe affecting all sectors: environment, agriculture, animal and human health. Some ABs are crucial for human health as last-resort treatment for multidrug-resistant bacterial infections, but their reliability for therapeutic use can be compromised by the spread of transferable antibiotic resistant genes (ARGs) to ABs in the clinical environment. Given their critical importance in human medicine, the European Medicines Agency proposed to restrict the use of class B-ABs including third and fourth generation Cephalosporins, Polymyxins and Fluoroquinolones.  Among these, Colistin, which is extensively used in livestock, is included in the “reserve group” of the “Essential Medicines List” designated by the World Health Organization. Despite European efforts, including sensitization campaigns among the Spanish livestock sector aimed to voluntarily reduce the use of veterinary ABs; there are no evidences of the effectiveness of these measures. A total assessment on the occurrence and fate of these ABs and ARGs conferring resistance to them in the environment is imperative to understand the mechanisms of AR spread and eventual human exposure.

Conventional waste treatment plants (WTPs) are not capable to completely remove ABs and ARGs present in urban and livestock wastes, thus being considered emission sources of these contaminants in the environment. There is an urgent need to explore green and cost-effective strategies to mitigate ABs and ARGs emergence and spread in the environment. Given that ABs are excreted partially metabolized and may undergo further transformation throughout WTPs and the environment, it is of outmost importance to investigate transformation products as well, for a comprehensive assessment of the complex fate of ABs.

REST-RESIST aims to unveil the occurrence, understand the fate, and contribute to mitigate the spread in the total environment of B-ABs, their TPs and ARGs conferring resistance to them by:

(i) developing quantitative chemical analytical methods combined with bio-molecular tools, both relying on cutting-edge instrumental techniques to characterize the occurrence of B-ABs, their TPs and ARGs in the whole cycle

(ii) identifying routes of exposure of B-ABs, their TPs and selective ARGs to human population

(iii) delivering critical insights on the role of the misuse of ABs as chronic selective pressure factor of promotion of selective ARGs in the environment

(iv) investigating and providing evidences of the capability of the main attenuation processes taking place in WTPs and in the environment for the removal and remediation of ABs and selected ARGs

In Europe, REST-RESIST will contribute to scale up the Commission efforts to fight against AR burden. In Spain, where ABs −particularly Colistin− are extensively used in livestock, REST-RESIST findings will provide local management authorities and stakeholders a solid basis to tackle the issue of AR spread from a holistic perspective including all sectors affected.



 This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the MSCA grant agreement No 801370            







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