Fate of antibiotics in river sediments and their impact on the spread of antibiotic resistance in natural environment

  • Contact:

    Ewa Borowska

  • Funding:

    Baden-Württemberg Stiftung

  • Startdate:


  • Enddate:


Project description

One of the most urgent problem discussed in the context of public health is antibiotic resistance (AR). Despite years of intensive investigations, it is still not entirely clear, which factors are responsible for the spread of this phenomenon. There is a reason to believe that the impact of antibiotics (ABs) on the environment, and therefore on AR, strongly depends on AB fate, distribution and persistence in the various environmental compartments.

The aims of this project are:

  1. to perform a field study in the river Alb that flows through Karlsruhe and receives effluent of local WWTP, to provide the spatial distribution of ABs concentrations in water column and in sediments, and to identify the relation between characteristics of river sediments and observed contamination,
  2. to assess the contribution of naturally occurring processes, such as biodegradation, photodegradation, adsorption and hydrolysis in ABs abatement in aquatic environment, in the laboratory study, and  
  3. eventually to identify ABs concentrations responsible for inducing AR mechanisms.

The results of field study and laboratory experiments could provide that answer if the concentration of ABs detected in the aquatic environment, both in water column and in the river sediments indeed pose a risk of spread of antibiotic resistance. If ABs play less significant role as repetitively stated, the view on the phenomenon of AR should be utterly revised.