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Postgraduate research project

Antibiotic resistance genes in chalk streams

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Our river systems face multiple threats. Summer 2022’s drought, followed by rain and discharge of sewage from overflows, and the widespread problem of plastic pollution, highlight the challenges that we face in managing our water resources under climate change. Chalk streams are among the rarest of freshwater habitats globally and are critical for biodiversity as well as having substantial cultural value1, yet their microbial communities are poorly characterized. Of particular concern are microbes with genes encoding antimicrobial resistance that could contribute to treatment-resistant infections. For example, agricultural run-off of nutrients and pesticides, or pharmaceutical compounds escaping from sewage works, or the contamination with plastic waste2 could all be leading to the enrichment of antibiotic-resistant bacterial populations. We hypothesise that antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) accumulate at specific sites, such as downstream of wastewater treatment works, or specifically within biofilms on plastics or microplastics. The objective of this project is to assess bacterial communities in different locations in chalk rivers and identify factors that lead to the selection of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


  • Doctor Marc Dumont (University of Southampton)
  • Doctor Kelvin Peh (University of Southampton)
  • Doctor Robert Holland (University of Southampton)