Contact Us  |  Search  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research
Development, Security, and Cooperation
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us For Applicants For Grant Recipients Funded Projects Email Updates
Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Characterizing and tracking of antimicrobial resistance in the water-plant-food public health interface: an emerging water, sanitation and hygiene issue

PI: Liza Korsten (, University of Pretoria
U.S. Partner: Manan Sharma, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory
Project Dates: January 2016 - November 2019

Project Overview:

The main aim of this research project is to determine the prevalence of, characterize, and track antimicrobial resistance (AR) in the water-plant-food-public health interface. This will contribute to addressing the knowledge gap on the contribution of agro-ecosystems to the dissemination of AR resistance in the environment in South Africa. Access to safe potable water is a basic human right. The microbiological quality of water sources, especially surface water, are seriously compromised by municipal wastewater discharge, sewage from informal settlements with inadequate sanitation, and wastes from animal husbandry, industrial companies, hospitals, and the mining sector. With strategic resources being polluted, consumers face increased risks with potential negative effects on human health, the environment, and food security. Following consultation with key stakeholders, the research team will select study sites where the risk for fecal bacterial contamination is high due to anthropogenic activities.

 They will compare levels of antimicrobial re
5-048 DuPlessis 
Post doc student Dr. German Villamizar showing the PEER team the project lab 
sistance prevalence in rural versus urban settings and organic farming versus intensive commercial farming, which should contribute towards an improved understanding of the role of agricultural practices on driving AR development in the agricultural ecosystem.

Hazard analysis coupled with pollution source tracking within a specific area will facilitate the assessment of the potential impact on public health.

The impact of this research should also provide water management services, government officials, and farmers with a knowledge base of “hotspots” where irrigation water quality has been severely compromised in South Africa. Knowledge generated during the course of the project should ultimately aid in the development of a Water and Health strategy in South Africa.

Summary of Recent Events

In this quarter, a Food Safety Workshop was held at the University of Pretoria where students from both University of Pretoria and the University of Fort Hare presented research project results to date and future activities. The PI and her team have continued with sampling and analysis of water and fresh produce samples. Ms Degracious Kgoale presented her PhD project outline which was approved by and external evaluator from Stellenbosch University, Prof Gunnar Sigge, the head of the Food Science Department.

Ms Loandi Richter applied for an IAFP travel scholarship to attend the conference from Salt Lake City, Utah in July 2018 which was successful. She will also be presenting a poster at the conference 

In the  next three months, the PI and her team will continue carrying out active sampling and microbiological analysis of water and fresh produce samples along the entire supply chain from the farm to the retailer by all students. 

Back to PEER Cycle 5 Grant Recipients