Self-funded PhD opportunities

The spread and persistence of antimicrobial resistance genes in aquatic environments

  • Application end date: All year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: School of Biological Sciences
  • PhD Supervisor: Joy Watts, Michelle Hale

Project code: BIOL3661017

Antibiotics are first line treatments for bacterial infections and critical for modern clinical care.  However, due to natural processes and widespread use (and misuse) antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes are now widespread in both clinical and natural environments. Bacteria have a number of methods to obtain resistance to antibiotics; a major route is horizontal gene transfer (HGT) via the processes of transformation, conjugation or transduction in the environment, resulting in a change from a resistant to sensitive strain. Rates of HGT are increased in environmental systems with elevated levels of heavy metals due to the process of co-selection. Transfer of antimicrobial resistance provides a global threat to healthcare systems and human longevity and it is therefore critical that we better understand how AMR genes in the environment persist and spread- especially into clinically relevant pathogen species. Aquatic sediments contain compounds from historic pollution events; such as direct sewage release, industrial contaminants and agricultural waste- including aquaculture, resulting in a stratified environment with a highly complex microbial community.   In this PhD we aim to study the resuspension of AMR genes into the water column. To further analyse the pathways and interactions responsible for AMR transfer sediment microcosm systems will be examined to look at HGT rates of AMR genes in aquatic sediments. 

Funding Notes:

This PhD opportunity is available to self-funded students. Consumables and travel would be covered by bench fees (£6,000) yearly. For more information please contact the project supervisor.

How to apply:

To apply or make an enquiry, please visit postgraduate research: Biological sciences

All applications should use our standard application forms and follow the instructions given under the ‘Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpages:

When applying please note the project code - BIOL3661017