Dispersal of antibiotic resistance and antibiotics in water ecosystems and influence on livestock and aquatic wildlife

PAIRWISE aims to advance knowledge of antimicrobial resistance as a pollution in aquatic environments, wildlife, and livestock. PAIRWISE focuses on dispersal and dynamics of antibiotic resistant bacteria, antibiotic resistance genes and antibiotics in aquatic environments affected by wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Overall goals are to understand: i) dispersal of antibiotic resistant bacteria, antibiotic resistance genes and antibiotics in surface waters downstream of WWTPs, ii) carriage of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes in livestock linked to surface waters influenced by WWTPs, iii) role of aquatic birds in dispersal of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes. Issues from the JPI call tackled by PAIRWISE include, but are not limited to: entry points and fate of antibiotic resistant bacteria, antibiotic resistance genes and antibiotics; identification of antibiotic resistance genes and antibiotic resistant bacteria useful as indicators; providing insight to fate and transport of antibiotic resistant bacteria, antibiotic resistance genes and antibiotics to, within, and from aquatic ecosystems, and the role of aquatic birds in such events.

PAIRWISE will assess the influence of antimicrobial resistance in agricultural settings and improve understanding of the dissemination and sustainment of antimicrobial resistance in the interface between humans, wildlife, and livestock with a One Health perspective. It will provide vital knowledge for policy makers and end-users, facilitating informed decisions on

mitigation strategies.The consortium consists of 7 partners from 5 countries and 2 continents forming an multidisciplinary team.


Achievements so far

The PAIRWISE project, which involves partners from Norway, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia and Uganda, is completing an extensive year-long sampling initiative to study seasonality. The consortium has collected 250 water samples, 800 cattle faecal samples and 830 wild bird faecal samples. Bacterial cultivation has begun concurrently with the completion of sampling. Further cultivation, characterisation of bacterial isolates and data interpretation will take place in 2023. PAIRWISE aims to provide insights into the distribution of antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antimicrobial resistance genes downstream of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) across different regions, climates, wastewater management practices and water bodies. The project will also investigate the impact of WWTPs on the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and resistance genes in downstream livestock. Using advanced methods and telemetry data on animal movements, PAIRWISE aims to provide groundbreaking insights into how different point sources influence the presence of contaminants in aquatic birds and their role in regional and global contaminant transfer. With the involvement of key stakeholders and effective dissemination plans, PAIRWISE aims to provide essential tools for developing strategies to reduce the environmental spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, antimicrobial resistance genes and antibiotics, thus contributing to the global fight against antimicrobial resistance in a One Health perspective.

If you're interested in scientific publications associated with PAIRWISE, click here.


Project Coordinator:
Karin Persson Walker & Oskar Nilsson
National Veterinary Insitute (SVA), Department of Animal Health and Antimicrobial Strategies, Sweden



Partner Institutions:
Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) - Norway

Linköping University (LiU) - Sweden

Estación Biológica de Doñana, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (EBD-CSIC) - Spain

National Research Institute for Rural Engineering, Water, and Forestry (INRGREF) - Tunisia

Faculty of medicine Ibn Al-Jazzar Sousse (FMS) - Tunisia

Makerere University (MAK) - Uganda