Urban environments contain a mixture of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) from various anthropogenic sources. However, it is currently unclear whether ARGs in the air exhibit site-specific characteristics. There is also a lack of research on the distribution of ARGs in specific environments such as sewage treatment plants and farms. Additionally, the airborne transmission of ARGs via hosts or other environmental micro-particles, and the assessment of potential risks of airborne transmission of ARGs to individuals or organisms living near sources of resistance gene pollution, are areas that have not been adequately studied. Considering these factors, we plan to collect air samples from various locations, with a focus on urban sewage treatment plants, using efficient custom-made air DNA samplers. We will conduct metagenomic sequencing to study the distribution and transmission characteristics of ARGs in the air at different sampling sites. We will also assess the patterns of transmission in different media (water, air, environmental solids) and evaluate the associated antibiotic resistance risks. These studies are of significant importance for assessing the characteristics of antibiotic resistance genomes in the atmospheric environment and for predicting potential pathogens. The experiments described will provide new information about the prevalence of antibiotic resistance and its driving factors across Australia, filling critical knowledge gaps in the literature.

Please note this is a PhD student progress review presentation.