Non-antibiotic compounds including metals and biocides co-select for clinically relevant antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes. Presently, there is little research looking at the effects of plant protection products (PPPS) such as herbicides and insecticides on the development and spread of resistance. Agricultural activities require the direct application of PPPs in large quantities and at high concentrations to soil. These chemicals are applied alongside antibiotics and manures which may contain antibiotic residues, other selective agents and resistant bacteria. The selection pressure exerted by this mixture of chemicals may result in enrichment of resistant bacteria and/or the exchange of resistance genes between environmental and clinically relevant bacteria. The impact of these chemicals on AMR and microbial diversity in terrestrial environments is poorly understood.

PPPs from different substance groups were tested for antimicrobial activity using the SELECT method developed by Murray (2019; under review). In this method, bacterial communities were exposed to PPPs and selective concentrations were identified by a significant reduction in community growth. Results from these experiments determined the concentration at which long term evolution experiments were carried out in soil microcosms. Selection for AMR was investigated using metagenomic analysis and targeted real-time PCR.

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