A meeting was held on Thursday the 4th of February 2016, at the University of Cyprus between the High Commissioner of Australia in Cyprus Mr. Alan Sweetman, the Dean of the University of Cyprus Prof. Constantinos Christofides, the Director of Nireas International Water Research Center (Nireas-IWRC) Dr. Despo Fatta-Kassinos and the Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Cyprus Dr. Ioannis Ioannou.
The meeting was held after the initiation of a joint international research project entitled ‘Transfer and control of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and their genes during wastewater treatment and reuse’ (Project IRGP 45), which is coordinated by Dr. Erica Donner (Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation, University of South Australia). The principal investigators of the project are Dr. Despo Fatta-Kassinos (Nireas-IWRC, Cyprus) and Dr. Eddie Cytryn (Volcani Center, Agricultural Research Organization, Israel).
This research project focuses on understanding and addressing the challenges posed by the emergence and transfer of antimicrobial resistance in non-clinical environments functioning as ‘evolutionary hotspots’. The experimental work focuses on wastewater treatment plants, as the development and transmission of new combinations of resistance genes are particularly likely to occur in this setting as environmental- and human-derived bacterial communities are in close contact and continuously subjected to sub-inhibitory concentration of antibiotics and other micropollutant stressors. With population growth and climate change increasingly highlighting the need of sustainable wastewater treatment and reuse particularly in hot-dry climates like South Australia, Cyprus and Israel, it is vital that the drivers of microbial resistome development and transfer are understood and that appropriate management options are actuated.
During the meeting, the main discussion topics were concerned with environmental sustainable development and safe water reuse with a focus on public and environmental health, as well as topics regarding research in Cyprus and internationally.
Finally, a tour of the High Commissioner was conducted at the pilot plant reactors of Nireas-IWRC which are situated at the premises of the University of Cyprus, utilized for various research activities related with urban wastewater treatment.