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


01/06/2020 - 31/12/2023

Dissemination of Antibiotic Resistance by Aquatic Birds: disentangling the contribution of microbes, bird ecology and anthropogenic pollution (DARABi)

Antibiotic resistance (AR) is a serious threat to human medicine, animal health and the environment. While many details of the epidemiology of RA in clinical settings are known, information on the role of wildlife in the evolution and spread of RA across biomes is more limited. The coordinated project (DARABi) investigates the prevalence of RA in different waterfowl species, considering: i) their ecological relationships (diet, foraging time and migratory routes) in environments affected by anthropogenic pollution (natural systems in Andalusia that differ in their degree of pollution), and ii) their ability to travel long distances (migratory vs. sedentary species). To achieve these goals, DARABi coordinates two subprojects, one led by ornithological experts and biomedical researchers (Subproject #1 University of Seville) and another led by microbial ecologists and molecular biologists (Subproject #2 ICRA). The latter proposes to resolve to what extent the different species of waterfowl act as reservoirs of bacteria resistant to antibiotics and resistance genes and how the abundance and diversity of their resistome and motility is related to the degree of contamination in the their habitats In addition, laboratory experiments will be conducted to determine the extent to which waterfowl feces contribute to the spread of RA by introducing resistance into the system. In ICRA, culture-dependent techniques and cutting-edge molecular techniques (including metagenomics and genome sequencing) will be combined to isolate, identify, quantify and characterize the resistome, the movilome and the microbiome of the different waterfowl species in order to be able to relate – them with their ecology. The results of DARABi will allow a better understanding of the role of these birds in the maintenance and spread of AR in nature and will help design better strategies to control its spread and mitigate its impact on global health.