The development and spread of antimicrobial resistance is an emerging global challenge. Antimicrobial agents and bacteria with with antimicrobial resistance reaches the sea though sewage and runoff from land, and may be accumulated in filter-feeding bivalves as they actively retain small particles, including bacteria. The bivalves act as a collecting funnel representing the burden of antimicrobial resitant bacteria regardless of the source of bacterial origin. Assigned by the Norwegian Environment Agency, NIFES starts in 2017 with a protocol for mapping the antimicrobial resistance burden in the aquatic environment applying marine bivalves as sentinel organisms.
This project aim to address the antimicrobial burden of localities along the Norwegian coast. A special emphasis will be put on antibiotics used in human medicine, and in particular last resort antibiotics where an increase in resistance have been observed. The findings will be evaluated in the light of any know anthropogenic influence which might have resistance promoting mechanisms, such as some heavy metals. The bacterial isolates with the most relevant resistant profiles will be charachterised by whole-genome sequencing. The project findings will reveal if there is a need for a monitoring program dedicated to antibiotic resistance in the marine environment. The project is to submit a final report within 1st of February, 2018.