Wastewater Microbial Ecology
The MEG, in cooperation with the company AcqueNovara.VCO and withy several other companies managing the water cycle, is studying the fate and the persistance of resistant bacteria and resistance genes in the bacterial communities of three different wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with different antimicrobial technologies. The large WWTP of Novara (full bio-treatments + UV) and the smaller and less complex WWTPs of Verbania and Cannobio are sampled in order to clarify the fate of resistances against both, heavy metals and antibiotics, and lately also against other chemicals.
The results of this study allow a deeper understanding of the potential of the diverse treatments in removing resistances, or in the worste case in favouring their spread. The design of new technologies, directly focused on the reduction of resistances will enhance the possibility to reuse the treated waters, according with the European demand (see the Nereus COST Action for more details).
In cooperation with IGB Berlin and with the financial support of the CNR-ST2014 and of the COST Nereus ST2015 we are now comparing in artifical systems the impact of the release of microplastics in treated wastewaters and in oligotrophic freshwater from Lake Maggiore, in order to clarify the potential role of ecological refuge given by the microplastic to autochthonous, potentially ABR or pathogenic bacteria in the natural environment.
Within the frame of a High Relevance ITA-CHI Research in cooperation with the Sun-Yat-sen University of Guangzhou (China) the MEG is leading a progect ivolving also the Salerno University and the CNR-ISMAR Venice for the first assessment of methodologies to determine and reduce the overall presence of resistance genes in wastewater, taking into account also extracellular genes in water.
Other researches from the MEG on the fate of microplastics, free extracellular DNA, plasmids, and their relation with antibiotic resistance are tackled by several specific projects. The MEG is also involved in the Global Sewage Surveillance Projects from the WHO, with the DTU Copenhagen.
A specific research line to develop treatments where chemical and physical disinfection is not anymore required started in 2022.