GWAPES (GW4 AMR Plasmid Epidemiology and Surveillance)

Generator fund

Awarded: April 2022

Community Lead:

University of Bath: Ed Feil (PI), Tiffany Taylor, Sam Sheppard, Lauren Cowley, Theresa Smith
University of Bristol: Rachel Kwiatkowska, Matthew Avison, Kristen Reyher, Sion Bayliss
Cardiff University: Eshwar Mahenthiralingum, Laura Rushton, Tom Connor
University of Exeter: Aimee Murray, Rob Beardmore, Will Gaze, Anne Leonard, Michiel Vos, Ivana Gudelj, Angus Buckling

Project overview

The project focuses on managing the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by exploring how the genes spread on plasmids between different bacterial strains, different ecological settings, and different geographical regions.


The rise of antimicrobial resistance presents an increasing public health, and economic, burden on a global scale. This project will explore a key challenge, and opportunity, in AMR research; how a multidisciplinary approach to the evolutionary and epidemiological dynamics of AMR plasmids can inform targeted surveillance and intervention measures. The project will utilise recent advances in sequencing technology to understand the evolution and spread of ‘plasmids’ – autonomous DNA elements that can spread between bacteria and commonly carry resistance genes. The work will help to focus efforts of AMR surveillance and intervention in different clinical and environmental settings.

Project summary

The ultimate aim of the project is to develop a synthesis of three strands: i. Bioinformatics and population genetics of natural plasmid populations, ii. Experimental work on model plasmids, and iii. Statistical and Mathematical modelling approaches to provide new tools and an over-arching framework for plasmid transmission. This breadth of expertise is well represented across the GW4 institutions, particularly within the ‘One-Health’ sphere. The community would explore and develop synergies between these typically compartmentalised disciplines, thus positioning GWAPES at the vanguard for the next major wave of genomics data. This hub would align with, and mutually reinforce, the broader GW4 AMR Alliance; albeit with a specific focus on AMR plasmids in clinical, environmental and agricultural settings. The exchange of expertise, tools and resources, together with pump-priming work, will lay a clear pathway for ambitious grant capture.

There will be three community-wide meetings, bioinformatics analysis, pilot experimental work and the preparation of a ‘perspectives’ article on future challenges of plasmid epidemiology.

Community site (GW4 Portal)