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

The overall aim of BIOCIDE is to determine how antibacterial biocides 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 1) exposure levels in different matrices, 2) concentrations that are likely to co-select for antibiotic resistance and promote horizontal gene transfer, 3) identification of predominant and novel genetic mechanisms for co-selection, as well as 4) 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 transports 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.



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


Achievements so far

As part of the ongoing project, BIOCIDE has prioritised more than 30 antibacterial biocides for investigation based on sales, use and detection in aquatic environments. BIOCIDE has developed advanced chemical analysis protocols applicable to various sample types and is currently generating screening data for biocide presence and levels in diverse aquatic ecosystems. The research includes studying the potency of these biocides on different species, exploring their impact on antibiotic resistance, and conducting field experiments with antifouling agents on ship hulls to assess their role in driving antibiotic resistance. BIOCIDE is also examining bacterial isolates from European aquatic ecosystems for resistance and updating the BacMet database on biocide-resistance genes. Ultimately, the goal is to provide a preliminary assessment of the risks associated with biocides promoting antibiotic resistance in aquatic environments, engaging stakeholders to ensure the broader impact of the research. The knowledge gained may influence regulatory systems and guide actions to enhance sustainable practices in the maritime sector.

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


Project Coordinator:
Prof. Joakim Larsson,
Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research (CARe) at University of Gothenburg, Sweden


Communication & Dissemination Contact:
Associate Professor Kristian Kvint


Partner Institutions:
Institute of Marine Research, contaminants and biohazards – Norway

Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), Materials and Environment – Germany

Umeå University, Department of Chemistry – Sweden

Technical University of Denmark, Dept. of Environmental Engineering – Denmark

University of Bucharest, Research Institute of the University of Bucharest, Life, Environmental and Earth Sciences Division – Romania

University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, Faculty of Fisheries and Protection of Waters – Czech Republic

Project Website