Call for SR&TD Project Grants - 2017
Antimicrobial Resistance Determinants in Aquaculture Environments
Ana Rosa Pombo Botelho
Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária, I.P.
Biological Sciences
Veterinary Science

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The continuous use of antimicrobial agents in human and animal therapy exerts a selective pressure responsible for the emergence of pathogenic bacteria resistant to multiple drugs. The spread of AMR and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in the environment is promoted by anthropogenic activities, such as animal farm and aquaculture. Portugal consumes about 61.10 kg of fish/capita/year from which is predicted that until 2020, 50% will be from aquaculture production. This rapid growth in aquaculture will probably be accompanied by a rapid increase in therapeutic and prophylactic usage of antimicrobials including those important in human therapeutics. In this scenario, it is pertinent to develop an exploratory study, to get information about antimicrobials residues, antimicrobial resistance bacteria, antimicrobial resistance genes and mobile genetic elements in intensive aquaculture farms and evaluation of the possible impact for humans in the acquisition of resistances. To achieve these goals the project team joints expertise in aquaculture and risk analysis (IPMA, Algés and Olhão), classification and quantification of antibiotics residues (INIAV, Vairão), identification of resistant bacteria (INIAV, Oeiras) and resistance determinants (INIAV, Oeiras and cE3c). A consultant with expertise in bioinformatics, metagenomics and computational biology will  contribute to the integrated analysis of data. Areas of aquaculture activity (finfish farms of guilded sea bream) in the Tejo and Sado estuary will be selected for: i) determination of classes and concentrations of antibiotic residues (namely tetracyclines, sulfonamides and fluoro-quinolones) in sediments and muscle from gilthead sea bream; ii) detection of antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) bacteria in feaces from piscine intestines, by culture and minimum inhibition concentration (MIC) determination; iii) identification of the corresponding antimicrobial resistance genes (ARG) and mobile genetic elements (MGE) in farms sediments, by meta-genomics analysis; iv) epidemiology of antimicrobial resistances and corresponding public risk estimation for the dissemination and transmission of resistance to the environment and to humans. Genomic data in combination with phenotypic information will be linked with epidemiological data and integrated into appropriate transmission models to have a first insight of the impact of aquaculture, as reservoirs of resistances. The identification of novel reservoirs of antimicrobial resistances and the analysis of the existing resistome (as the complete set of drug resistance mechanisms/genes) and mobilome (as the set of mobile elements) will be of crucial importance to implement new strategies to deal with emerging multi-resistant pathogens. This research should form the basis of sound, science-based policies that will contribute to the sustainability of the aquaculture industry and minimize risks to public health. 
AntibioticsResistant BacteriaResistance GenesAqualculture Farms