Intervention of antimicrobial resistance transfer into the food chain




Research Project: 2018-02-01 - 2021-01-31
Total sum awarded: €1 264 158

Soil and water have been identified as reservoirs of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and thefood chain as the most likely mode of AMR transfer into human and animal pathogens. Manureis reused as soil fertiliser in which food plants grow and is a source of AMR. We hypothesisethat pre-treatment of manure will reduce and remove the abundance and diversity of AMRgenes and pathogenic bacteria of high priority from entering the food chain. Alleviating AMRelements from entering the food chain will reduce the transfer and uptake of mobile AMRgenes and pathogens by human and animals. This project will focus on chicken and pigmanure as both have been demonstrated to carry a wide variety and abundance of mobile AMR genes of clinical relevance. Our intervention is to pre-treat the manure in order to reduceor remove the burden of AMR in the manure prior to reuse as fertiliser. The microbiomes ofchicken and pig manure differ, but the AMR genes and mobile elements overlap. Our study will investigate if the same pre-treatments will reduce or remove AMR prior to application andif these reductions or removal are maintained on the food plants or grass, and in the soil. Wewill also identify the main microbiome changes mediated by the intervention and analyse if these bacterial changes are important in the mitigation of AMR. Reducing or removing thethreat of AMR at the start of the food chain will reduce the potential for selection and transferof such AMR genes and pathogens further along the food chain. By stopping or reducing the continuous transfer of AMR genes and mobile elements along the food chain we will reduce the burden of AMR in pathogenic bacteria

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  • Fiona Walsh, Maynooth University, Ireland (Coordinator)
  • Edward Topp, University of Western Ontario, Canada (Partner)
  • Magdalena Popowska, University of Warsaw, Poland (Partner)
  • Eddie Cytryn, Agriculture Research Organisation, Israel (Partner)
  • Fiona Brennan, Teagasc Environmental Research Centre, Ireland (Partner)
  • Xavier Sidler, University of Zurich, Switzerland (Partner)

Antimicrobial resistance can be passed from animal and human waste to the environment through pollution and using it as fertilisers to help crops and grass growth. Our research wants farmers to be still able to use this useful waste to give nutrients to the crops and grass but to remove the chance of antimicrobial resistance being passed on to bacteria in the soil or on the plants. This project is looking at ways to treat farm manure before it’s added to the field. We have used three different and cost-effective ways to treat animal manures and compared these with untreated manures. The manures are then spread on crops or grass and we measure if antibiotic resistance is present, if bacteria that cause disease are present and if both of these stay on the plant and in the soil for weeks afterwards. We will be able to say if the treatments reduce or stop the antibiotic resistant bacteria being passed onto the soil and grass and which treatments work best. We’ll also be able to say if some of these bacteria and antibiotic resistances don’t survive on the plants or in the soil for very long and then also the bacteria and antibiotic resistances that can survive and that are most important to look for on the plants before animals or humans eat them.