Bridging the Gaps: Systems-level approaches to antimicrobial resistance
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Bridging the Gaps: Systems-level approaches to antimicrobial resistance


The role of sheep in the transmission of AMR between farms and between environments

Sabine Tötemeyer (Veterinary Medicine and Science [SVMS]), Dov Stekel (Biosciences), Peers Davies (SVMS), Adam Blanchard (SVMS), Laurence Shaw (Biosciences), Mike Jones (SVMS), Jon Hobman (Biosciences), Helen West (Biosciences), Nigel Kendall (SVMS) and Rachel Gomes (Engineering)

The issue

Antimicrobial use in agriculture and the resulting antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global issue, especially the context of the recent colistin resistance emergence in farm animals. The health-based and economic consequences would be vast if AMR were to spread from agricultural environments to humans, whether directly or via the food chain.

The research

Our researchers hypothesize that the feet of grazing animals provide an environment that drives the acquisition of antimicrobial resistance, and that animal feet distribute those organisms further in the environment. In particular, sheep are moved and traded widely and often used to ‘clean up’ winter grass on several different dairy farms. Sheep may represent a uniquely important transmission mechanism for AMR between farms and between environments.

Sheep have been swabbed across three different seasons, different grazing systems and on pastures with and without fertilisers and lime. Researchers will explore these samples by isolating the DNA, Sequencing & completing Metagenomic analysis using HiSeq4000 and developing and using computational pipelines:

  1. Identifying AMR genes using the metagenomic dataset and the use of the ARG-OAP and UBlastX pipeline
  2. Analysing AMR gene composition changes through different seasons and management strategies

The impact

This research will begin to tell us about the potential AMR triggers and the spread of AMR by grazing animals. This is key to improving our understanding of AMR in the farm environment and how we might use different farm management strategies to minimise AMR risk in the long term. Research such as this is essential to reduce the overall risk to human and animal health. 

If you are interested in finding out more about this research or about Bridging the Gaps please be in contact with Harry Moriarty in the first instance.

Bridging the Gaps: Antimicrobial Resistance

School of Mathematical Science
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 748 6317