Grant number: 2021/03/Y/NZ9/00141
Currently, dissemination of antibiotic resistance became a global problem and a real threat to public health. Communal wastes have been recognized as a possible source of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes spreading to other environments. Thus, novel, possibly cheap and sustainable technologies for purification of wastewaters from antibiotics, antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes are needed. The project PhageLand aims to develop an intervention strategy to prevent the transfer of antibiotic resistance from wastewater to surface waters. The innovative strategy combines cheap and eco-friendly phage therapy (i.e. targeted elimination of bacteria via action of bacterial viruses) and passive treatment systems, namely constructed wetlands. The project includes public health investigations targeting multidrug resistant bacterial pathogens in low-middle income countries (LMICs) in Eastern Europe. Phage therapy treatment will be tailored to eliminate multi-drug resistant pathogens from wastewater as they are transferred through artificially constructed wetlands. In parallel, PhageLand aims to evaluate: a) the self-purification capacity of model full-scale constructed wetlands operating in Spain and Moldova in removing antibiotic residues, antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes; and b) the potential risk associated with the dissemination of multi-drug resistant bacteria and resistance genes within indigenous bacterial communities and among various animals inhabiting constructed wetlands. The project includes field and laboratory experiments, using cutting-edge chemical, biotechnological and (meta)genomic techniques, as well as animal research. The development of this cheap and nature-based technology is especially important for LMIC countries, where financing for the construction and maintaining of the large-capacity wastewater treatment plants is limited due to high costs.