Antibiotic resistance is a major human health challenge of the 21st century. A growing body of research demonstrates that the water environment is a key recipient, pathway, and source of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARBs) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). While environmental monitoring of ARBs and ARGs is needed to better quantify environmental contributions to the overall spread of antibiotic resistance and human and animal health burden, such efforts are hampered by a lack of standardized monitoring methods.
The overarching objective of this project was to identify, develop, and validate standardized methods for monitoring ARBs and ARGs in water environments, including wastewater, recycled water, and surface water. Culture-, qPCR-, and metagenomic-based methods for monitoring antibiotic resistance in the environment were evaluated. It was clear from literature reviews, expert surveys, and expert workshops that no one method or target comprehensively captures all dimensions of antibiotic resistance that may be of interest for a monitoring program. Therefore, the research team developed a framework that aligns specific targets and methods with specific monitoring objectives. Research partner: California State Water Resources Control Board. Published in 2023.