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Metagenomic assessment of the diversity and ubiquity of antimicrobial resistance genes in Bangladeshi aquaculture ponds

Bell, Ashley G., Thornber, Kelly, Chaput, Dominique L., Hasan, Neaz A., Mehedi Alam, Md., Haque, Mohammad Mahfujul, Cable, Jo ORCID:, Temperton, Ben and Tyler, Charles R. 2023. Metagenomic assessment of the diversity and ubiquity of antimicrobial resistance genes in Bangladeshi aquaculture ponds. Aquaculture Reports 29 , 101462. 10.1016/j.aqrep.2023.101462

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In Bangladesh, fish provide over 60% of animal-source food with 56.2% of this coming from aquaculture produced predominantly in rural freshwater ponds. Increasing demand for fish products is driving intensification and resulting in higher disease prevalence, posing a risk to food security. Biosecurity is often absent in rural aquaculture practices in Bangladesh and antibiotics are commonly used to treat and prevent disease outbreaks. Antibiotics are often administered incorrectly - a key factor associated with the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). AMR can be disseminated rapidly within microbial ecosystems via mobile genetic elements, posing a risk for humans and animals infected with AMR pathogens as treatments with antibiotics become ineffective. Early AMR detection and understanding of the spread of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) in rural aquaculture practices is critical for both food security, human health protection and food safety. Here, we apply a metagenomic approach to assess the ARG composition in pond water from six finfish (tilapia and pangasius) farms in the Mymensingh division of North-central Bangladesh. We found microbial communities within the ponds had similar alpha and beta diversities, with multiple ARGs predicted to confer resistance to eighteen different classes of antimicrobials. The most common ARGs conferred resistance to aminoglycosides and sulphonamides and were present in taxa associated with both fish and human pathogens. This ARG diversity potentially confers resistance to a wide variety of antibiotic classes and questions the effectiveness of current and future treatment of diseases with antibiotics in earthen aquaculture ponds. The microbial and ARG compositions between fish ponds within each farm were similar, which may relate to parallels in farming practices creating similar microbial selection pressures and thus comparable microbial populations. Without a more controlled approach towards antibiotic usage, we will inevitably further exacerbate the challenges in treating and preventing disease outbreaks as aquaculture production intensifies in Bangladesh.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
ISSN: 2352-5134
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 January 2023
Date of Acceptance: 4 January 2023
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 07:36

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