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Ir. Prof. ZHANG Tong

Ir. Prof. ZHANG Tong

Ir. Prof. ZHANG Tong

Professor, Associate Head, Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory, Environmental Engineering Research Centre, Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Hong Kong

Honorary Professor ,School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong

Director, International Center for Antibiotic Resistance in the Environment (iCARE), School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology

Prof. Zhang is a Professor in Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory in Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Hong Kong. His researches include biodegradation of emerging pollutants, environmental bioinformatics, omics technologies, anaerobic digestion and bioenergy from wastes/wastewater, biological wastewater treatment (N removal and Precovery), antibiotic and antibiotic resistance genes, etc. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers on the above topics, and got more than 12, 500 citations (Google Scholar). He has a H index of 63 and is Top 1% researcher (Essential Science Indicators) for the past 9 years from 2009 to 2017. He is associate editors of Microbiome, and Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, and had served as an advisor for BGI (Beijing Genomics Institute) on Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology from 2011 to 2014. He was Yi Xing Chair Professor of Nanjing University from 2013 to 2016, and currently a distinguished visiting professor of Southern University of Science and Technology.

Session 2: What are we facing?

[2.2] Use of big data – metagenomic analysis
Use of Big data – Metagenomic Analysis to Study Environmental Dissemination of ARGs

The spread of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) is a growing global problem now. ARGs could be developed in multiple sources, included some hotpots, like WWTPs and livestock waste, and discharged into natural environment. Different methodologies have been used to study environmental dimension of antibiotic resistance, including isolation, PCR-cloning, qPCR, high-throughput technologies (HT-qPCR and microarray), metagenomic sequencing, etc. DNA sequencing at 40 years is providing a more comprehensive and comparable profile of antibiotic resistance genes in different environmental sectors, given the big data obtained using metagenomic analysis, the standardized DNA extraction procedure, uniform sequencing platform, consistent and transparent bioinformatics analysis pipeline, publicly accessible huge growing database, and artificial intelligence based expert system. More importantly, the longer reads/contigs obtained base don assembly of short reads and directly from 3rd generation DNA sequencing offer insights into host and genetic context of ARGs which largely help risk assessment of detected ARGs. In the past 10 years, we evaluated DNA extraction kits, compared different sequencing platforms, developed an online pipeline for annotation and statistical analyses of ARGs in metagenomes of environmental samples, built the database of metagenomic datasets, and are developing the risk assessment system using machine learning and expert system. This presentation is going to share our findings and experience on use of big data obtained by metagenomic analysis to study environmental dissemination of ARGs.