Module 4 – Microbial resistance and risk assessment

Microbial resistance, ecotoxicological impact, and risk assessment of micropollutants in a mid-sized lake

Projects :

  • Sources, spreading and fate of antibiotic resistance genes and resistant bacteria in Vidy Bay, Lake Geneva, Switzerland
  • Reliability of methods used for the risk assessment of mixtures of micropollutants in aquatic environments: from theoretical concepts to fiels observations
  • Ecotoxicoproteomic approach to assess the risk of anticancer drugs to aquatic fauna

Supervisors :

  • Dr Helmut Buergmann  – Eawag-Kastanienbaum, Lucerne
  • Dre Nathalie Chèvre       – IDYST, University Lausanne
  • Dr John Poté                        – Institut Forel, University Geneva


The goal of this subproject is to assess risks of compounds, both as single substances and as a mixture (combination), and bacteria entering the lake, using new methods of risk assessment. One sub-project will evaluate risks of microbial antibiotic resistance arising from exposures to high levels of antibiotics in urban or rural watersheds. A second sub-project will assess ecotoxicological risks to aquatic organisms implied by mixtures of micropollutants, and evaluate new approaches for ecotoxicological risk assessment. A particular challenge is the evaluation of the uncertainties associated to this risk. Furthermore, risk assessment methods will help to define water quality criteria, which can be then applied to management of the catchment (Research Module 2) so as to ensure sustainable lake water quality. A third sub-project will investigate heavy metals and bacterial antibiotic resistance in sediment: how does heavy metal contamination shape microbial communities, what is the role of sediment as a reservoir of antibiotic resistance and heavy metals, and what are associated risks?