Preliminary Investigations Relating to the Role of Cyanobacterial Blooms in the Amplification and Dispersal of Antimicrobial Resistance

Melbourne Water Corporation

Recent publications suggest that cyanobacterial blooms can act as an amplifier and dispersal mechanism of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the aquatic environment. Cyanobacteria are a type of algae-like bacteria that inhabit freshwater, coastal, and marine waters, and a cyanobacterial bloom is formed when these bacteria start to multiply very quickly. However, the conditions that may facilitate this are poorly understood, as are the associated risks to the environment and human health. The purpose of this project is to establish a preliminary AMR-related data set in relation to cyanobacterial blooms at Melbourne Water’s Western Treatment Plant. Samples will be taken from the Western Treatment Plant and analysed for AMR genes and microbial diversity. Data on a variety of water quality parameters will also be obtained, including the concentration of a range of antibiotics.


The analytical method originally proposed has been expanded to analyse a wider suite of compounds and has been further optimised on the state-of-the-art SCIEX 7500 LC-MS/MS. This method will be applied to samples collected during an algal bloom which is yet to occur.

Project members

Dr Jake O’Brien

Senior Research Fellow

Jinglong Li

PhD Candidate

Prof Kevin Thomas

QAEHS Director
and Theme Leader, Environmental Health Toxicology