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Research Project: Genetic Analysis of Poultry-Associated Salmonella enterica to Identify and Characterize Properties and Markers Associated with Egg-Borne Transmission of Illness

Location: Egg Safety & Quality Research

Title: How should we be determining background and baseline antibiotic resistance levels in agroecosystem research?

Author
item Rothrock, Michael
item Keen, Patricia - University Of British Columbia
item Cook, Kimberly - Kim
item Durso, Lisa
item Franklin, Alison - Pennsylvania State University
item Dungan, Robert - Rob

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2015
Publication Date: 3/1/2016
Citation: Rothrock Jr, M.J., Keen, P., Cook, K.L., Durso, L.M., Franklin, A.M., Dungan, R.S. 2016. How should we be determining background and baseline antibiotic resistance levels in agroecosystem research? Journal of Environmental Quality. 45:420-431.

Interpretive Summary: Although historically antibiotic resistance has occurred naturally in environmental bacteria, many questions remain regarding the specifics of how humans and animals contribute to the development and spread of antibiotic resistance in agroecosystems. Additional research is necessary to completely understand the potential risks to human, animal and ecological health in systems altered by antibiotic resistance-related contamination. At present, analyzing and interpreting the effects of human and animal inputs on antibiotic resistance in agrocecosystems is difficult, since standard research terminology and protocols do not exist for studying background and baseline levels of resistance in the environment. Therefore, the aims of this review were to (i) present standard definitions for commonly used terms in environmental antibiotic resistance research, (ii) illustrate the need for research standards (normalization) within and between studies of antibiotic resistance in agroecosystems and (iii) develop a surveillance and decision-making tool to assist researchers in determining the most relevant and important antibiotic resistance-related targets in agroecosystems. In order to improve the state of science in antibiotic resistance-related research in agroecosystems, researchers are encouraged to incorporate baseline data within the study system and background data from outside the study system in order to normalize the study data and determine the potential impact of antibiotic resistance-related determinants on a specific agroecosystem. Incorporation of these components within antibiotic resistance-related studies would allow for a more comprehensive and accurate picture of the current and future states of antibiotic resistance in the environment.

Technical Abstract: Although historically antibiotic resistance has occurred naturally in environmental bacteria, many questions remain regarding the specifics of how humans and animals contribute to the development and spread of antibiotic resistance in agroecosystems. Additional research is necessary to completely understand the potential risks to human, animal and ecological health in systems altered by antibiotic resistance-related contamination. At present, analyzing and interpreting the effects of human and animal inputs on antibiotic resistance in agrocecosystems is difficult, since standard research terminology and protocols do not exist for studying background and baseline levels of resistance in the environment. Therefore, the aims of this review were to (i) present standard definitions for commonly used terms in environmental antibiotic resistance research, (ii) illustrate the need for research standards (normalization) within and between studies of antibiotic resistance in agroecosystems and (iii) develop a surveillance and decision-making tool to assist researchers in determining the most relevant and important antibiotic resistance-related targets in agroecosystems. In order to improve the state of science in antibiotic resistance-related research in agroecosystems, researchers are encouraged to incorporate baseline data within the study system and background data from outside the study system in order to normalize the study data and determine the potential impact of antibiotic resistance-related determinants on a specific agroecosystem. Incorporation of these components within antibiotic resistance-related studies would allow for a more comprehensive and accurate picture of the current and future states of antibiotic resistance in the environment.