Wastewater carries a complex cocktail of chemical and biological pollutants that spread antimicrobial resistance (AMR) from urban to natural and drinking water resources. Besides xenobiotic substances like antibiotics, xenogenetic elements that comprise antibiotic resistance genes, mobile genetic elements and biosynthetic gene clusters are emitted in wastewater. These genetic contaminants can replicate during and after (waste)water treatment, making their management and suppression a real challenge. AMR surveillance studies mostly track the intracellular DNA content of waterborne microorganisms. Much less is known about the role of the extracellular free DNA pool on AMR spreading. We systematically analyzed the fate and genetic composition of free DNA materials and AMR determinants in engineered water systems, and their transformation in wastewater microorganisms. Our results stress the need for a careful surveillance of extracellular genetic elements in the One Water – One Health cycle, in interaction with environmental, water and health authorities.
About the Speaker:
David Weissbrodt is a full professor of microbial ecology in the research division Analysis and Control of Microbial Systems of the Department of Biotechnology and Food Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Weissbrodt was trained in the Swiss Alps as an envirobiochemical engineer and microbiologist with a Dipl.-Ing. degree received from HES-SO Valais and a MSc and PhD from EPFL. After a first postdoc at ETH Zürich and Eawag – the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, water streams brought him as a joint Swiss NSF fellow to the Environmental Biotechnology Section of the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands and to the Center for Microbial Communities at Aalborg University, Denmark. He completed his tenure track as an assistant professor of environmental life science engineering at the TU Delft Department of Biotechnology. Weissbrodt is a member of the management committee of the Microbial Ecology & Water Engineering (MEWE) specialist group of the International Water Association (IWA), for which he organised and chaired several events. He received the inaugural 2019 IWA MEWE Early Career Researcher Award from his peers, and several distinctions from the student association ‘Practische Studie’ for his contribution to education in environmental biotechnology and microbiology. He is curious about biological, chemical, and physical processes in water and health microbiomes, to sustain the engineering of solutions and policies.