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


Agencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI), Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (MICIU); Código: PID2019-108962GB-C22




Universidad de Sevilla


IP: Dr. Carles Borrego More; Co-IP: Dr. José Luis Balcazar Rojas




Dissemination of Antibiotic Resistance by Aquatic Birds (DARABi)

Antimicrobial Resistance (AR) has become a serious and growing threat to all levels, human, animal and the environment. While important progress has been made in understanding the epidemiology of AR in clinical settings, limited information is available on the role of wildlife in the evolution and dispersal of AR across biomes. Project DARABi is aimed to explore the prevalence of AR in different waterbird species, considering: i) their ecological relationships (dietary habits, foraging time, and migratory routes) in environments affected by contrasting levels of anthropogenic pollution (sites across Andalusia differing in their degree of pollution), and ii) their capacity to travel over long distances (migratory vs. sedentary species). DARABi is assembled by the coordination of two subprojects, Subproject#1 lead by expert bird ecologists and biomedical researchers (University of Sevilla), and Subproject#2 lead by microbial ecologists and molecular biologists (ICRA). The latter is aimed at assessing to what extent different waterbird species are reservoirs of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) and resistance genes and to link the abundance and diversity of their gut resistome and mobilome to the anthropogenic pollution at their natural habitats. Moreover, we will carry out manipulative experiments in the laboratory to assess if feces from waterbirds actively contribute to the dissemination of AR by introducing ARB into the environment. A combination of cultivation-dependent and state-of-the-art gene-based molecular techniques (including metagenomics and genome-sequencing) will be used to identify, quantify, and characterize the resistome, the mobilome, and the microbiome of different waterbird species in relation to the bird ecology. Results from DARABi will provide a better understanding of the role of wildlife in the maintenance and dissemination of AR in the environment, allowing the design of better strategies to reduce its dispersal and to mitigate its impact on global health.


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