Forschungsprojekt: New metagenomics and molecular based tools for European scale identification and control of emergent microbial contaminants in irrigation water



The overall aim of the project is to develop European scale tools for the rapid evaluation of the role that irrigation water has in the transmission of existing, new and emerging pathogens to the human population. The diverse sources of irrigation water used in the European countries (reclaimed water, superficial water, ground water and distribution water) will be characterized and critical points for the quality of irrigation water and the treatment processes will be analyzed for standard fecal bacteria, new viral indicators and existing, new and emerging water-borne microbiological risks, characterizing the population of human viruses, emerging pathogenic bacteria (including antibiotic-resistant bacteria), protozoa and cyanobacterial toxins. The project coordinates the work, the objectives and expertise of the teams involved in 7 subprojects distributed in 4 European countries. The metagenomics techniques will provide a better understanding of the complex situation concerning bacterial/viral load in the transmission of microbial infections to the population and may be used to identify unknown risks. The project will identify the different microbiological risks associated to irrigation water in the different European regions with the aim to protect the consumer’s health and enable the production of safe food. The final objective is to prevent epidemics and to produce the scientific bases to support the development of European/national regulation for water use for irrigation. Specific objectives are:

  1. Developing new bioinformatics tools and novel methods for water-borne emergent pathogens, NGS systems for nucleic acid detection and novel sample preparation protocols suitable for irrigation water and implementation in end-user laboratories. Preparation of internationally harmonized Standard Operation Procedures for the control of pathogens in irrigation water.
  2. Characterization of viral/bacterial/protozoa communities/pathogens in critical points of source water and distribution networks, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria and cyanobacterial toxins.
  3. Characterization of microbial communities and pathogens in wastewater treatment plants using diverse technologies, and reclaimed water at the point of use.
  4. To produce optimized protocols for the traceability of fecal contamination in irrigation water;
    identification of the source of fecal contamination in water matrices by using most specific MST tools.
  5. Development of the list of microorganisms identified representing a risk in irrigation water in Europe: virome and bacteriome.
  6. Identifying transmission routes, and defining prevalence and behavior of antibiotic resistant bacteria in irrigation water.
  7. Evaluation of microbial removal efficiency in wastewater treatment plants and risk assessment studies to build new evidence-based analysis of the suitability of bacterial and viral indicators and current water regulations for controlling irrigation water quality.
  8. To integrate sequence and annotation databases into a web-based dynamic interface for implementation of the developed resources at the European level.

Laufzeit: 2014 bis 2017