Priority research areas

Antimicrobial resistance in the environment

Development of bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a growing problem in the world. However, antimicrobial resistant bacteria (ARB) and antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) have existed in the environment since before the introduction of commercially produced antibiotics as treatment of infections. Over years, human activities have increased the prevalence of resistant bacteria in different natural environments. The usage levels, not only in clinical settings, but also the use of antibiotics in agriculture and aquaculture and food production has contributed to the increased level of ARB in different environments.

The risk of a possible deliberate release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with antibiotic resistance marker genes (ARMG) has been identified as one of the areas where more research is necessary. In addition, identification and monitoring of the prevalence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria (ARB) and antimicrobial resistance genes (ARG) in general, in different environments with different exposure to human activities, is another area where more research is needed.

The presence of resistant bacteria in different natural environments, such as soil, fresh water, sea sediments and wild animals, has only been sporadically studied in a Norwegian context, and there is therefore a need for more knowledge about antimicrobial resistant bacteria (ARB) and antimicrobial resistant genes (ARGs) in different natural environments in Norway.

In our research group, we will combine phenotypic studies with molecular tools and metagenomics analysis to map and monitor the prevalence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria and antimicrobial resistant genes in different terrestrial- and aquatic environmental setting.

Our current portfolio of active research projects includes

  • Prevalence of Antimicrobial Resistance Marker Genes (ARMGs) in Selected Environments in Norway: a research project that has been partly funded by the Norwegian Environment Agency conducting baseline studies to map and monitor the prevalence of the most frequent used ARMGs used in GMOs
  • Antimicrobial resistance genes (ARG) and antimicrobial resistant bacteria (ARB) as “environmental pollutants”: a research project that has been partly funded by the Norwegian Environment Agency focusing to map and monitor the prevalence of clinical relevant ARB and ARGs in selected Norwegian environments.

Contact: Lise Nordgård

Photo: Alexandre Buisse (Nattfodd). Creative commons licensed.