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Antimicrobial resistance in marine mammals

This project addresses an urgent Global Challenge – the growing widespread incidence of anti-microbial resistance (AMR). It will be the first to investigate an unreported alarming concern, that wild seals are dying off from AMR bacterial infections and mortality is greater in more polluted waters. Recent evidence suggests industrial pollutants are a more plausible explanation of the widespread global problem of AMR bacteria not the over-use of antibiotics in medicine. Furthermore, industrial pollutants are immunosuppressive, in mammals including humans, so highly contaminated individuals will be more susceptible to infections. Pollutants and antibiotics contaminate the marine food chain via industrial and municipal (including hospital) wastewater discharges. Seals are invaluable surrogates for humans, sharing similar physiology and both being top predators of the same food chain, causing them to be exposed to the same biomagnified concentrations of persistent industrial pollutants and aquatic bacteria. This project will involve the quantification of pollutants and antibiotic concentrations and identify most prevalent and pathogenic AMR bacteria in samples from seals from more polluted waters and neighbouring populations from cleaner waters. Also, pollutants and antibiotics in sediment cores from study areas will be analysed. This work will tell us which types of AMR bacteria in estuarine sediments “infect” aquatic food-chains from which our food is derived; whether current estuary pollution levels increase AMR development and spread; and lastly if AMR infection rates and associated mortality are elevated in more contaminated populations of wild seals.

Please include in your CV details of modules taken in your UG and/or MSc courses (if applicable) with grades; and a list of field and lab skills you have developed. 

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.