Satellite tracking of gulls and genomic characterization of fecal bacteria reveals environmentally mediated acquisition and dispersal of antimicrobial resistant Escherichia coli on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

Molecular Ecology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Gulls (Larus spp.) have frequently been reported to carry Escherichia coli exhibiting antimicrobial resistance (AMR E. coli); however, the pathways governing the acquisition and dispersal of such bacteria are not well-described. We equipped 17 landfill-foraging gulls with satellite transmitters and collected gull fecal samples longitudinally from four locations on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska to assess: 1) gull attendance and transitions between sites, 2) spatiotemporal prevalence of fecally-shed AMR E. coli, and 3) genomic relatedness of AMR E. coli isolates among sites. We also sampled Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) harvested as part of personal-use dipnet fisheries at two sites to assess potential contamination with AMR E. coli. Among our study sites, marked gulls most commonly occupied the lower Kenai River (61% of site locations) followed by the Soldotna landfill (11%), lower Kasilof River (5%), and upper Kenai River (<1%). Gulls primarily moved between the Soldotna landfill and the lower Kenai River (94% of transitions among sites), which were also the two locations with the highest prevalence of AMR E. coli. There was relatively high spatial and temporal variability in AMR E. coli prevalence in gull feces and there was no evidence of contamination on salmon harvested in personal-use fisheries. We identified E. coli sequence types and AMR genes of clinical importance, with some isolates possessing genes associated with resistance to as many as eight antibiotic classes. Our findings suggest that gulls acquire AMR E. coli at habitats with anthropogenic inputs and subsequent movements may represent pathways through which AMR is dispersed.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Satellite tracking of gulls and genomic characterization of fecal bacteria reveals environmentally mediated acquisition and dispersal of antimicrobial resistant Escherichia coli on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
Series title Molecular Ecology
DOI 10.1111/mec.15101
Volume 28
Issue 10
Year Published 2019
Language English
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB
Description 15 p.
First page 2531
Last page 2545
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Kenai Peninsula