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Cheney Lecture: Managing AMR in the Water-Soil-Plant Continuum

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University of Leeds

Liberty Building

Lecture Theatre LG.06

Leeds

LS2 9JT

United Kingdom

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Prof. Yong-Guan Zhu is the University of Leeds Cheney Fellow and a global leader in soil biology. He is Director of Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute for Urban Environment. He will use this lecture to talk about food safety and managing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the water-soil-plant continuum.



The lecture: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is conferred by mobile genetic elements within organisms including human pathogens. Although AMR is ancient, human misuse and abuse of antibiotics are responsible for its enrichment and global spread, threatening the public health worldwide. AMR can be transmitted to the soil and water microbiome by horizontal gene transfer from AMR-carrying microorganisms released to the environment through human and animal excreta. These sources of AMR genetic elements are often discharged with selective agents such as pharmaceutical or veterinary antibiotics, thus providing selective pressure for organisms that favour the persistence and transmission of AMR. Worldwide movement of humans and animals contribute to the rapid spread of AMR globally with gene copy numbers related to AMR transmission on the order of 1019 per day for humans and up to 1023 for pigs in agricultural production [1]. Recent research by the Zhu group suggests substantial environmental transmission and exposure to AMR genes through wastewater re-use including application of sewage sludge in the production of organic fertiliser for horticulture and agriculture. Current research from the Zhu group is helping lay the foundation for the biogeography and manage control of the AMR reservoir within soil and water, and the risks associated with potential trophic transfer to food crops and the human microbiome.

The speaker: Prof. Zhu is a global leader in soil biology and the application of science evidence to tackle global challenges of soil and water resources. He received his PhD at Imperial College, London. He leads a £25 million key priority program on soil microbiome in China and is the Chinese PI on a joint UK-China research project with University of Leeds. This project “Using Critical Zone Science to Enhance Soil Fertility and Improve Ecosystem Services for Peri-Urban Agriculture in China” is led in the UK by Prof. Steven Bawart, Director: Global Food and Environment Institute, and funded by NSF China and by the Newton Fund through NERC.



[1] Zhu Y-G, Gillings M, Simonet P., Stekel D., Banwart S.A., Penuelas J. (2017). Microbial mass movements. Science, 357(6356), 1099-1100.

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University of Leeds

Liberty Building

Lecture Theatre LG.06

Leeds

LS2 9JT

United Kingdom

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