Antibacterial biocides in the water cycle - an integrated approach to assess and manage risks for antibiotic resistance development.

aquaticpollutants funded projects

Project coordinator: Joakim LARSSON

University of Gothenburg - Institute for Biomedicine (UGOT) - Sweden 

Communication contact:  Kristian KVINT - kristian.kvint(at)

Dr Nachiket Marathe

Institute of Marine Research, contaminants and biohazards (IMR)

Dr Frank Schreiber Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Materials and Environment (BAM) Germany
Prof. Mats Tysklind Umeå University, Department of Chemistry (UMU) Sweden
Prof. Barth Smets

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Prof. Mariana Carmen Chifiriuc

University of Bucharest (UB)

Dr Roman Grabic University of South Bohemia, Faculty of Fisheries and Protection of Waters (USB) Czech republic


The overall aim of BIOCIDE is to determine how antibacterial biocides (i.e., chemicals with antibacterial properties that are not used for treating infections) contribute to the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in different aquatic/marine ecosystems, and to inform and enable measures that ultimately protects human health and safe water resources for both humans and wildlife.
Generated data will include:

  • exposure levels in different matrices,
  • concentrations that are likely to co-select for antibiotic resistance and promote
    horizontal gene transfer,
  • identification of predominant and novel genetic mechanisms for co-selection, as
    well as
  • a risk assessment.

The knowledge created and its impact will reach well beyond the European setting. We will provide means to guide action both at the source (approval) and in other parts of the water cycle. Predicted No Effect Concentrations and new methodology will facilitate possible future inclusion in regulatory systems, in Europe and elsewhere.
The maritime sector will receive guidance to improve sustainable transport by a better understanding of potential human health risks associated with the use of antifouling agents. The research has high relevance for all three JPIs and for several themes within the call, particularly those related to risk assessment and management.

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aquaticpollutants funded projects

Expected research results

  • New knowledge on methods to analyse antibacterial biocides in environmental matrices, detect levels in various aquatic environments, generation of effect data that reflect the risks that biocides promote the development and spread of antibiotic resistance through selection and through horizontal gene transfer, underlying genetic mechanisms for how bacteria acquire biocide resistance, and data on how specific forms of biocide resistance links to antibiotic resistance in bacteria,
  •  An up-to-date database (BacMet) on antibacterial biocides with regards to resistance mechanisms, co-selection opportunities, predicted-no-effect-concentrations and literature references, supporting both research and risk management,
  • An evaluation scheme on how antibiotic resistance risks related to the exposure of bacteria to antibacterial biocides formally could be incorporated in existing regulatory frameworks.

For more details on the work plan and expected impact of the project consult the AquaticPollutants booklet.

Keywords: antibacterial biocides, antibiotics, metals, antibiotic resistance, co-selection, cross-resistance, water, pollution, antifouling, risk assessment, environmental regulation, metagenomics, analytical chemistry, selection, horizontal gene transfer, human health, bacteria, infectious diseases, DNA.

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published on 2021/10/15 10:29:00 GMT+1 last modified 2022-07-08T11:16:37+01:00