'INTERACT' is a research programme aiming to investigate the roles of biocides and metals in developing and maintaining antibiotic resistance in bacteria. 'INTERACT' intends to deliver information on environmental occurrence of biocides and metals and the risks associated for interactions with antibiotic resistance development.
Multi-resistant bacteria cause tens of thousands of deaths every year in Europe, jeopardizing various medical procedures. According to the WHO, the rapid resistance development is one of the largest threats to public health, globally. The fact that antibiotics select for resistant bacteria is well known. Lately, concerns have been raised that exposure to biocides and metals may also contribute to development of antibiotic resistance through co-selection and cross-resistance. Chemicals in the environment may thus contribute to making bacteria untreatable with antibiotics in the future. To enable mitigation, 'INTERACT' will identify chemicals and environments associated with high risks for combination effects.
Specifically, we assess:
1) What biocides and concentrations promote resistance development?
2) In which environments can high-risk mixtures be found?
3) What is the genetic basis for co- and cross-resistance?
4) What is the potential for resistance factors to spread from the environment to human pathogens?
5) Can antibiotic resistance genes hitchhike around the globe on ship hulls under the selection pressure from antifouling paints?
The project combines controlled laboratory experiments with field studies. Sequencing of DNA from bacterial communities, competition experiments under selection pressure, and community tolerance experiments are used to assess selection pressures and resistance mechanisms for a range of biocides, environments and chemical mixtures. Fluorescent bacteria are used to assess the potential for horizontal gene transfer between bacteria. State-of-the-art chemical analyses allow precise measurement and description of exposure to chemical mixtures.
'INTERACT' will provide crucial input to environmental regulatory agencies to manage release of chemicals into the environment. The results from 'INTERACT' will also be importance in the health care, water and shipping sectors.
'INTERACT' is led by the research group of Prof. Joakim Larsson at the Sahlgrenska Academy, together with research groups of Prof. Hans Blanck at the Faculty of Science at the University of Gothenburg, Prof. Dan Andersson, Uppsala university and Prof. Mats Tysklind at Umeå University.