Catalan Water Research Institute research and innovation for the sustainable use of water

ICRA investigates the role of waterfowl in the spread of antibiotic resistance

Monday, 07 December 2020

Antibiotic resistance (AR) has become a serious public health problem affecting humans, animals and the environment. Despite the knowledge we have of the epidemiology of RA in the clinical setting and even in relation to livestock, less known is the role played by wildlife in the generation and dissemination of RA among biomes

Precisely, to explore the prevalence of resistance to antibiotics in different species of waterfowl, the DARABi project has been launched, coordinated by experts in environmental genomics and microbial ecology from the Catalan Water Research Institute (ICRA) . and experts in bird ecology and biomedicine from the University of Seville .

The research work is carried out considering the ecological relationships of the birds (diet, length of stay and migratory routes) in habitats affected by different levels of anthropogenic pollution (dumps, rubbish dumps, natural spaces), as well as their ability to travel long distances (migratory species versus sedentary species).

The ICRA team is particularly interested in finding out to what extent the different bird species to be studied (seagulls, storks, cranes and geese) are carriers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) and resistance genes and until to what extent these are related to the pollution of their natural habitats.

In addition, different laboratory experiments will be carried out to determine whether birds contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance in their environments through the introduction of antibiotic-resistant bacteria through their feces.

At DARABi, culture-dependent techniques, metagenomics and genome sequencing will be combined to identify, quantify and characterize the resistome, mobilome and microbiome of different bird species in relation to their ecology and movement. It is hoped that the results of DARABi will allow the design of better strategies to reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance in the environment and mitigate its impact on global health.


Image : Conceptual diagram of the DARABi project. ARB: Bacteria resistant to Antibiotics; ARG: Antibiotic resistance gene; AB: Residues of Antibiotics. Source of icons (The Noun Project,