Fish as sentinels of antimicrobial resistant bacteria, epidemic carbapenemase genes, and antibiotics in surface water

  12 September 2022

Surface waters, especially those receiving wastewater flows, can disseminate antimicrobial resistant bacteria (ARB), antimicrobial resistance genes (ARG), and antibiotics. In the Scioto River of central Ohio, United States, we evaluated fishes as potential sentinels of ARB and antimicrobial contamination and investigated the influence of antimicrobial exposure on the fish intestinal resistome. Seventy-seven fish were collected from river reaches receiving inputs from two wastewater treatment plants that serve the greater Columbus Metropolitan Area. Fish were screened for the presence of cephalosporin-resistant (CeRO) and carbapenem-resistant (CRO) organisms, epidemic carbapenemase genes, and antibiotic drugs and metabolites using culture methods, droplet digital PCR, and ultra-high performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectroscopy (UHPLC-MS/MS). 

Our findings confirm that fishes can be effective bioindicators of surface waters contaminated with ARB, ARG, and antibiotics. Moreover, our findings highlight the varying importance of different mechanisms that facilitate establishment of ARB in aquatic ecosystems.

Further reading: Plos One
Author(s): Gregory A. Ballash, Anca Baesu, Seungjun Lee, Molly C. Mills, Dixie F. Mollenkopf, S. Mažeika P. Sullivan,Jiyoung Lee, Stephen Bayen, Thomas E. Wittum
Clean Environment   Healthy Animals  


Unrestricted financial support by:

Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter Coalition


JSS University


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