Water is a basis of life for those who live in the drylands of India, plagued by droughts and an increasing rate of climate change. These factors put tremendous pressure on water resources and affect many sectors, including human health, agriculture and ecosystems. Over the years, with research at FMR evolving to have a multidisciplinary flavour with bridges being formed between laboratory findings and their translation to public health measures, another research theme at the Foundation included the investigation of water quality in drought prone areas and its association with climate change. This study based in rural Maharashtra was also extended to understand how multiple forms of drug resistance and propagated through water bodies and how they impact human health. All these studies were collaborative studies of FMR and the sister organization Foundation Research for Community Health (FRCH) in Pune.
Laboratory based studies were supplemented with detailed community perspectives that indicated the need for awareness and identify resilience factors within rural communities in handling water shortages.
A significant finding has been the presence of multi drug resistant organisms in the water bodies, especially around major cities. Their significance in affecting the health of the people living downstream was probed as the source of their origin.
Some key highlights of our research in this area are
- Mapping contaminated water bodies in the environment and rural dwellings indicated a potent interplay of seasons with water handling practices.Feedback on the observations along with health education messages was provided to the local communities. It was concluded that access to drinking water and its quality were divergent issues.
- The presence of multiple drug resistant organisms in the river with the potential for public health threat was documented along with a demonstration of horizontal gene transfer for the propagation of AMR in environmental sources (water)
- The alarming situation of river Mula-Mutha was highlighted wherein increasing numbers of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the river were isolated. This represented a cumulative effect of an exponentially rising population of Pune city, the rise of anthropogenic pollution, overburdened waste water treatment plants, poor sanitation and irrational use of antibiotics.
- Recommendations demonstrated the need to include strong regulation of sewage disposal in rivers.
Dr. Tannaz Birdi
Dr. Ragini Macaden, Dr. Mary Dias, St. John's Research Institute, Bengaluru
Ms. Rutuja R. Dhawde, Dr. Sivanandan R. Namachivayam
Norwegian Research Council
September – December 2017
INR 3.3 lakhs
In this study presence of virulence genes in multidrug resistant Escherichia coli isolated from the Mula-Mutha river, Pune was undertaken. The objective was to understand whether the isolates were of diarrhoeagenic (Enteroaggregative) or environmental origin. This was essential since the river flows through urban and rural parts of Pune and its water is used not only for industrial and agricultural purposes but also for domestic usage. One hundred and two multidrug E. coli isolates were selected from a previous study, wherein the presence of genes coding for antibiotic resistance as well as identified integrons associated with multidrug resistance were detected from the river Mula-Mutha (link to Projects 2). Isolates were subjected to multiplex PCR to detect the presence of virulence genes, set1A, set1B, senastA, aggA, aafA, pet, stx1 and stx. Sequencing was performed to confirm the amplified PCR product. This study was an extension of Project 2.
Dr. Tannaz Birdi
Dr. Isabel Seifert, Norwegian Institute for Water Research
Ms Rutuja Dawde, Mr. Appasaheb Gadge (FRCH)
Norwegian Research Council
May 2016 – December 2018
INR 51.88 lakhs
Increasing numbers of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the river represent a cumulative effect of an exponentially rising population of Pune city, rise of anthropogenic pollution, overburdening of waste water treatment plants (WWTPs), poor sanitation and irrational use of antibiotics.
A seasonal water quality assessment was undertaken for the Mula-Mutha river and for the major drinking water sources (MDWS) from villages along its banks. Additionally, the study investigated the spread of antibiotic resistance in the river Mula-Mutha. Towards this, water samples were collected from different stretches of the river. The sampling covered 4 rural points upstream of Pune city, 2 points in urban areas and 2 rural points downstream of the city. In the case of MDWS, water samples were collected from 6 villages, of which 4 were situated upstream of Pune city and 2 were situated downstream. The collected water samples were tested for the presence of Thermotolerant Faecal Coliforms (TFC) and antibiotic resistant (AR) TFC.
PhD degree award
Under the guidance of Dr. Tannaz Birdi, Ms. Rutuja Dhawde was awarded a doctoral degree in Applied Biology for this research work in 2018. A copy of the thesis titled “A Bacteriological analysis of water sources from Pune district with special reference to antibiotic resistant bacteria and their potential for transferring antibiotic resistance by horizontal gene transfer” is available in the FMR library