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.
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