Fate and transport modelling for evaluating antibiotic resistance in aquatic environments: Current knowledge and research priorities
Antibiotics have revolutionised medicine in the last century and enabled the prevention of bacterial infections that were previously deemed untreatable. However, in parallel, bacteria have increasingly developed resistance to antibiotics through various mechanisms. When resistant bacteria find their way into terrestrial and aquatic environments, animal and human exposures increase, e.g., via polluted soil, food, and water, and health risks multiply. Understanding the fate and transport of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) and the transfer mechanisms of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in aquatic environments is critical for evaluating and mitigating the risks of resistant-induced infections. The conceptual understanding of sources and pathways of antibiotics, ARB, and ARGs from society to the water environments is essential for setting the scene and developing an appropriate framework for modelling. Various factors and processes associated with hydrology, ecology, and climate change can significantly affect the fate and transport of ARB and ARGs in natural environments. This article reviews current knowledge, research gaps, and priorities for developing water quality models to assess the fate and transport of ARB and ARGs. The paper also provides inputs on future research needs, especially the need for new predictive models to guide risk assessment on AR transmission and spread in aquatic environments.