Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Doctoral Training Programme

Enzyme performance and complexity to inform on antimicrobial resistance in the dairy farming environment


Lab rotation project description

The 7 week mini project will introduce the student to an active cross-University research programme into antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The student will learn about the importance of enzymes in biotransformation and metabolism relevant to pollutants and microorganisms. One exemplar enzyme will be identified to develop an enzymatic assay and apply this methodology to real-world samples to characterise enzymatic performance.

A temporal profile will be developed during the mini-project to begin assessing the variability and impact that the farm environment has on enzymatic performance. The student will also have the opportunity to participate in the multi-disciplinary activities that form this research programme and gain an understanding from different discipline perspectives on the issue and activities to address AMR in the environment. 

Training will include methods to handle and assay for enzymes, providing an insight into enzyme reactions. Training will be provided in the analytical methodologies that are used throughout the biotechnology industries and in academic research labs.  In addition to the lab training, the students will gain an insight into the need for rigorous experimental designs and data analysis to extract maximum information from the minimum number of experiments.

Fact file

Research theme



University Park


LR2, LR3


2nd supervisor

BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnerships

Linked PhD Project Outline

Integral to agriculture and food security is the dairy farm environment where the health of the dairy herd is supported through application of antibiotics.

However antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing global problem where we face a rise in the number of bacteria becoming resistant to existing antibiotics. The farming environment and antibiotic use plays an important role in influencing how bacteria behave and the transmission of genes within and between bacterial species, as does the way humans and animals interact with the environment.In dairy farming the major uses of antibiotics are to treat mastitis, foot rot and respiratory disease. Antibiotics used on the dairy farm are discarded into slurry either in faeces or urine, or in mastitic/antibiotic treated milk. Antimicrobial metals used in footbaths are also discarded into the slurry tank. Thus the slurry tank is an environment where low levels of antimicrobial agents/metabolites and resistant bacteria co-exist. Environmental enzymes are important in the biotransformation processes of pollutants. These pollutants such as antibiotics and antimicrobial metals act as selection drivers for antimicrobial resistance. Enzymes additionally play a vital role from the microbial perspective and metabolism
This project will be the first to aim at understanding the role that enzymes play in developing antimicrobial resistance within the farming environment. Specific objectives will include:

1. Identifying enzymes of interest in the farming environment.

2. The development and application of assays to determine enzymatic activity in complex environmental matrices.

3. Build a temporal and spatial enzymatic-specific profile using samples from the dairy farm slurry tank to inform on developing an enzymatic profile to understand the role of the environment on enzyme activity.

4. To reflect student specific interests, further PhD activities will then correlate enzyme performance to the microbial and/or pollutant (antibiotic, heavy metal) relationships. Outcomes will seek to identify for the first time the enzyme profiles in dairy farming environment. This will enable understanding of the role that the dairy farm environment has on enzyme activity and determine variability in enzymatic performance and impact on antimicrobial resistance.

[1] QU J, YING H, WANG X, YU G, SCHMIDY T, DREWES JE, ELSNER M, ESCHER B, GROSS M, HOLBERT H, WACHTER W, TAO H, HENMI M, IKE M, KOMAI T, SHIBATA Y, TANAKA H, CARTMELL E, GOMES RL, HUDDERSMAN K, KASPRZYK-HORDERN B, TEMPLETON M, PLATZ MS, CHILDRESS AE, LOGAN B, MAYER BK and SCHNOOR JL, 2016. Challenges and solutions in a changing world, A White Paper from the 6th Chemical Sciences and Society Symposium (CS3), GDCh, Germany. Pg 32. [2] JONES, O.A.H. and GOMES, R.L., 2014. Chemical pollution of the aquatic environment by priority pollutants and its control. In: HARRISON, R.M., ed., Pollution: Causes, Effects and Control 5th Edition. Royal Society of Chemistry. 1-28 [3] GOMES, R.L., SCRIMSHAW, M.D., CARTMELL, E. and LESTER, J.N., 2011. The fate of steroid estrogens: partitioning during wastewater treatment and onto river sediments Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 175(1-4), 431–441


Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Doctoral Training Programme

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Tel: +44 (0) 115 8466946