Welcome Vi and Marcus
I am very happy to share with you that our two doctoral students funded by the Wallenberg DDLS initiative have now started. One of them – Marcus Wenne – is already a well-known figure in the lab, as he has been with us as a master student and then as a bioinformatician for more than a year. The other student – Vi Varga – is a completely new face in the lab and just started yesterday.
Marcus will work in a project on global environmental AMR. He will also continue on his work on large-scale metagenomics to understand community dynamics and antibiotic resistance selection in microbial communities subjected to antibiotics selection. Marcus will work very closely to EMBARK and continue the important work we have done in that project over the next four years.
Vi will study responses of microbial communities to change, with a particular focus on comparative genomics and transcriptional approaches. We will link this to both community stability, pathogenesis and resistance to antibiotics, so this project involves a little bit of everything in terms of the lab’s research interests. Vi’s background is in comparative genomics and pathogenesis, so this seems to be the perfect mix to be able to carry out this project successfully!
Very welcome to the lab Marcus and Vi! We look forward to work with you for the next four years or so!
Einhorn SIGHT Award
It’s been a busy couple of days at the DDLS Annual Meeting, so I did not have the time to post about this exciting news yesterday, but it is very exciting nonetheless.
I have been selected by the board of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences as the 2022 recipient of the Einhorn SIGHT award. The award recognizes outstanding global health research work by young researchers in the context of low- and middle-income countries, and specifically I have been selected thanks to my “outstanding research and development of tools to limit the global challenge of infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance.”
In a global health context, what is particularly important in the coming years is improved access to clean water and sewage systems. In addition, we also need to develop data-driven systems that can be used to implement easy-to-handle, inexpensive early warning systems and risk models for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which we hope will be the outcome of the EMBARK program.
Clearly, a large part of this is the result of the work the entire EMBARK team has put together in the past couple of years. Another big part has been the work I have done together with Joakim Larsson in the area of antibiotic resistance in the environment. I am deeply grateful both to Joakim and my EMBARK collaborators for their contributions towards this award. Science is a teamwork, and it is a bit of a pity that we celebrate individuals to the extent we do (even though the recognition of my contribution of course is nice for me personally). Thanks to everyone who have been involved over the years!
There will be an award ceremony at the Royal Academy of Sciences on November 22, as part of a very nice event on Global Health, with the theme ‘Food Safety in conflict’. You can read a short interview I did in relation to the award here.
In other notes, I was also selected as one of Clarivate as one of this year’s Highly Cited Researchers (for the third year in a row!) This is of course also exciting news, although the most important aspect of that is that it shows that the research we do is useful to others!
March 2021 Pod: Antibiotic resistance evolution
In this episode Microbiology Lab Pod, the team (Johan Bengtsson-Palme, Emil Burman, Anna Abramova, Marcus Wenne, Sebastian Wettersten and Mahbuba Lubna Akter, Shumaila Malik, Emilio Rudbeck and Camille Wuyts) discusses the evolution of antibiotic resistance from different perspectives. We also interview Rémi Gschwind about his work on novel antibiotic resistance genes in the EMBARK program.
The specific papers discussed in the pod (with approximate timings) are as follows:
- 7:45 – EMBARK website: http://antimicrobialresistance.eu
- 26:15 – Seemann, T., 2014. Prokka: rapid prokaryotic genome annotation. Bioinformatics 30, 2068–2069. https://doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btu153
- 29:00 – Bengtsson-Palme, J., Larsson, D.G.J., 2015. Antibiotic resistance genes in the environment: prioritizing risks. Nature reviews Microbiology 13, 396. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro3399-c1
- 29:30 – Ebmeyer, S., Kristiansson, E., Larsson, D.G.J., 2021. A framework for identifying the recent origins of mobile antibiotic resistance genes. Communications Biology 4. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-01545-5
- 54:15 – Gillings, M.R., Stokes, H.W., 2012. Are humans increasing bacterial evolvability? Trends in Ecology & Evolution 27, 346–352. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2012.02.006
- 55:15 – Woods, L.C., et al., 2020. Horizontal gene transfer potentiates adaptation by reducing selective constraints on the spread of genetic variation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 117, 26868–26875. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2005331117
- 76:15 – Card, K.J., Thomas, M.D., Graves, J.L., Barrick, J.E., Lenski, R.E., 2021. Genomic evolution of antibiotic resistance is contingent on genetic background following a long-term experiment with Escherichia coli. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 118, e2016886118. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2016886118
The podcast was recorded on March 18, 2021. If you want to reach out to us with comments, suggestions, or other feedback, please send an e-mail to podcast at microbiology dot se or contact @bengtssonpalme via Twitter. The music that can be heard on the pod is composed by Johan Bengtsson-Palme and is taken from the album Cafe Phonocratique.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
More podcasting: The AMR Studio
Not only did we release the most recent episode of the lab’s podcast this weekend. Today, the episode of The AMR Studio where I’m interviewed by Eva Garmendia of the Uppsala Antibiotic Center was put online. We talk mostly about antibiotic resistance in the environment and the role that the EMBARK program can play in mitigating environmental resistance. I think it’s a nice listen (recorded in the beautiful world pre-covid-19). Find it where you find podcasts (e.g. Apple or Spotify).
Conferences and a PhD position
Here’s some updates on my Spring schedule.
On March 19, I will be presenting the EMBARK program and what we aim to achieve at a conference organised by the Swedish Medical Products Agency called NordicMappingAMR. The event will feature an overview of existing monitoring of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria in the environment. The conference aims to present the results from this survey, to listen to experts in the field and to discuss possible progress. It takes place in Uppsala. For any further questions, contact Kia Salin at NordicMappingAMR@lakemedelsverket.se
Then on May 18 to 20 I will participate in the 7th Microbiome & Probiotics R&D and Business Collaboration Forum in Rotterdam. This industry/academia cross-over event focuses on cutting-edge microbiome and probiotics research, and challenges and opportunities in moving research towards commercialisation. I will talk on the work we do on deciphering genetic mechanisms behind microbial interactions in microbiomes on May 20.
And finally, I also want to bring the attention to that my collaborator Erik Kristiansson has an open PhD position in his lab. The position is funded by the Environmental Dimensions of Antibiotic Resistance (EDAR) research project, aiming to describe the environmental role in the development and promotion of antibiotic resistance. The focus of the PhD position will be on analysis of large-scale data, with special emphasis on the identification of new forms of resistance genes. The project also includes phylogenetic analysis and development of methods for assessment of gene evolution. More info can be found here.
Open postdoc position
We are hiring a postdoc to work with environmental monitoring of antimicrobial resistance. The project is part of the EMBARK program and will consider different aspects of establishing a baseline for background antibiotic resistance in the environment, standardization of monitoring protocols and development of methods to detect emerging resistance threats. The project will involve work with environmental sampling, DNA extractions, bacterial culturing and generation of large-scale DNA sequence data. In terms of bioinformatic analyses, the project will encompass analysis of next-generation sequence data, genome-resolved metagenomics, short-read assembly and network analysis.
We look for a skilled bioinformatician, preferably with experience of experimental laboratory work. If you feel that you are the right person for this position, you can apply here. More information is also available here. We look forward to your application! The deadline for applications is January 3.
EMBARK funded by JPIAMR
I am very happy to announce today (on the European Antibiotic Awareness Day), that the EMBARK project that I am coordinator for got funded by JPIAMR with almost 1.4 million Euros over three years!
The primary goal of EMBARK is to establish a baseline for how common resistance is in the environment and what resistance types that can be expected where. That background data will then underpin efforts to standardize different methods for resistance surveillance and identify high-priority targets that should be used for efficient monitoring. In addition, EMBARK will develop and evaluate methods to detect new resistance factors and thereby provide an early-warning system for emerging resistance threats.
EMBARK is an international collaboration funded by JPIAMR. The consortium consists of myself, Thomas Berendonk (TU-Dresden, Germany), Luis Pedro Coelho (Fudan University, China), Sofia Forslund (ECRC Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin, Germany), Etienne Ruppé (INSERM, France) and Rabaab Zahra (Quaid-i-Azam University, Pakistan).
EMBARK has a website where the protocols and data generated during the project will be released. Follow our progress towards better monitoring of antimicrobial resistance in the environment here and on the EMBARK Twitter account: @EMBARK_JPIAMR!