DOI: 10.1093/jambio/lxad288 ISSN: 1365-2672

An update on the prevalence of colistin and carbapenem-resistant gram-negative bacteria in aquaculture: an emerging threat to public health

Roa Memesh, Muhammad Yasir, Ruth G Ledder, Hosam Zowawi, Andrew J McBain, Esam I Azhar
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • General Medicine
  • Biotechnology


Aquaculture has been recognized as a hotspot for the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) conferring resistance to clinically-important antibiotics. This review gives insights into studies investigating the prevalence of colistin and carbapenem resistance (CCR) among Gram-negative bacilli in aquaculture. Overall, a high incidence of CCR has been reported in aquatic farms in several countries, with CCR being more prevalent among opportunistic human pathogens such as Acinetobacter nosocomialis, Shewanella algae, Photobacterium damselae, Vibrio spp., Aeromonas spp., as well as members of Enterobacteriaceae family. A high proportion of isolates in these studies exhibited wide-spectrum profiles of antimicrobial resistance, highlighting their multidrug-resistance properties (MDR). Several mobile colistin resistance genes (including, mcr-1, mcr-1.1, mcr-2, mcr-2.1, mcr-3, mcr-3.1, mcr-4.1, mcr-4.3, mcr-5.1, mcr-6.1, mcr-7.1, mcr-8.1, and mcr-10.1) and carbapenemase encoding genes (including, blaOXA-48, blaOXA-55, blaNDM, blaKPC, blaIMI, blaAIM, blaVIM, and blaIMP) have been detected in aquatic farms in different countries. The majority of these were carried on MDR Incompatibility (Inc) plasmids including IncA/C, and IncX4, which have been associated with a wide host range of different sources. Thus, there is a risk for the possible spread of resistance genes between fish, their environments, and humans. These findings highlight the need to monitor and regulate the usage of antimicrobials in aquaculture. A multisectoral and transdisciplinary (One Health) approach is urgently needed to reduce the spread of resistant bacteria and/or resistance genes originating in aquaculture and avoid their global reach.

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