Australian Centre for Water
and Environmental Biotechnology

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Project Dates: 2020


The spread of antibiotic resistance has become a major concern for public health. Horizontal gene transfer of antibiotic resistance genes is recognized as the primary contributor to antibiotic resistance dissemination. As emerging contaminants, various metallic nanoparticles (NPs) and ionic heavy metals have been ubiquitously detected in various environments. Although previous studies have indicated NPs and ionic heavy metals could exhibit co-selection effects for antibiotic resistance, little is known about whether and how they could promote antibiotic resistance spread via horizontal gene transfer across bacterial genera. This project aims to investigate:

  1. Whether metallic NPs such as silver and copper NPs in the environment can stimulate the horizontal gene transfer of antibiotic resistance genes by promoting conjugation.
  2. Whether metallic NPs at environmental concentrations could promote the transformation of antibiotic resistance genes.
  3. The underlying molecular mechanism of NPs in promoting the horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes among bacteria species.