ProjectIntegrated modelling of the selection of resistant bacteria and horizontal transfer of resistance genes caused by…

Basic data

Integrated modelling of the selection of resistant bacteria and horizontal transfer of resistance genes caused by exposure to antibiotics and disinfectants
01/11/2021 to 31/10/2025
Abstract / short description:
An understanding of the various factors and processes that influence
the fate and effects of pollutant mixtures in wastewater-irrigated soils
is largely still missing even though wastewater becomes more and
more prominent for irrigation in agriculture due to population growth
and climate change, especially in countries with water shortage. The
implementation of wastewater treatment in long-established irrigation
systems with untreated wastewater might mobilize pollutants that
have formerly been accumulated in soils, leading to concentrations
that (co-)select for antimicrobial resistance, with release and
concentrations of antibiotics as well as selection of antibiotic
resistance depending on soil type. To test these hypothesis, this
subproject (SP 7) of the research unit “Pollutant – Antibiotic
Resistance – Pathogen Interactions in a Changing Wastewater
Irrigation System” will combine mathematical models with data from
observations in the laboratory and in the field to quantify processes
and analyze different scenarios that simulate consequences of
selected environmental or laboratory conditions of interest (so-called
in silico experiments) on the fate of antibiotics and quaternary
alkylammonium disinfectants and their effects on the selection and
spread of antimicrobial resistance. The chemical fate of pollutants in
soils as well as the selection and spread of antimicrobial resistance
have been described by process-based mathematical models. For the
description of microbial population dynamics and spread of resistant
bacteria model approaches range from ordinary differential equations
(ODEs) to stochastic approaches and to individual based or agentbased
models. Thus, in close cooperation with all involved subprojects
of the research unit we will: i) develop a conceptual and a
mathematical model that combines pollutant fate in wastewaterirrigated
soils with bacterial dynamics and spread of resistance genes,
which enables us to ii) couple pollutant concentrations, release from
soil and fate to the selection of resistant bacteria and horizontal gene
transfer (HGT) in wastewater and soils; iii) consider heterogeneity and
plant uptake into the overall evaluation of interactions between
pollutants and bacteria; and iv) integrate the process understanding
across the different spatial scales. In this way, the outcomes of this
sub-project will specifically contribute to elucidating and quantifying
processes and parameters that drive the pollutant fate and spread of
bacterial resistance in agricultural soils that face a shift from irrigation
with untreated to irrigation with treated wastewater.
wastewater irrigation
environmental fate of organic pollutants
bacterial resistance
process-based modelling

Involved staff


Faculty of Science
University of Tübingen
Center for Applied Geoscience
Department of Geoscience, Faculty of Science

Local organizational units

Center for Applied Geoscience
Department of Geoscience
Faculty of Science


Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

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