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Antimicrobial resistance in the environment

Antimicrobial resistance in the environment

Antimicrobial resistance in the environment

Development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is fast growing and one of the biggest threats to global health today. However, antimicrobial resistant bacteria (ARB) and antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) are thought to have existed in the environment since before the introduction of commercially produced antibiotics. Increased human impact on the environment have increased the prevalence of AMR in terrestrial, aquatic and marine environments. The very high usage levels of antibiotics in clinical settings, agriculture and in aquaculture have contributed significantly to the increased level of AMR in the environment. The WHO recommends advocates an interdisciplinary approach to combat major threats to human health, such as antibiotic resistant bacteria. We call this the One Health Concept.

The presence of resistant bacteria in different natural environments, such as soil, fresh water, sea sediments and wild animals, has only been sporadically studied in a Norwegian context. This means that there is a great need for more knowledge about antimicrobial resistant bacteria (ARB) and antimicrobial resistant genes (ARGs) in Norway. GenØk is located in the Arctic and we have a unique access to surveying the Arctic regions for AMR, hence contributing to our understanding of AMR spread in pristine environments. Consequently, we have performed a number of reports from different environments and we continue to investigate the interface between human activities and nature.

In our research group, we combine phenotypic studies with molecular tools and metagenomics analysis to map and monitor the prevalence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria and antimicrobial resistant genes in different terrestrial- and aquatic environmental setting. We have investigated whales, seals, semidomesticated reindeer, aquatic sediments and arctic agriculture. Currently our running projects are concentrated on human waste water and the role of microplastics in spreading AMR through our water systems.

Contact person
Odd-Gunnar Wikmark

Genteknologi, miljø og samfunn Research Director Gene Technology, Environment and Society - Tromsø

ogwi@norceresearch.no
+47 56 10 78 84

Related research groups:
Gene technology, environment and society
Gene technology, environment and society