The project Assessment and Critical Evaluation of Antibiotic Resistance Transferability in Food Chain (ACE-ART) is aimed to provide a critical evaluation of the impact on non pathogenic bacteria of antibiotic use in agriculture and in the prophylaxis and treatment of disease in humans. Workpackage 1 of this project has assembled, maintained and used a collection of about 1400 bacterial strains belonging to 20 species of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Lactococcus and Streptococcus thermophilus to develop standardised phenotypic procedures to detect strains showing a level of antibiotic resistance atypical for their species. These procedures have been validated by means of a ring test among WP1 members. Collaboration has been established with the Joint Action Team of ISO and FIL/IDF and the process to transform the procedures developed by ACEART into an ISO standard is now in progress. In the meantime, phenotypic results obtained in this year by WP1 have been used by the panel FEEDAP of EFSA for safety assessment of bacterial strains applying for approval as feed additives of plant protection agents. This achievement is of relevance, as this support to EU policy was among the objectives to be achieved by the project.[+] Read More
WP2 has validated the model systems for gene transfer evaluation developed in the first part of the project: 1) plant model based on alfalfa sprouts, 2) bovine ruminal model, 3) streptomycin-treated mice, 4) germ-free and 5) human-flora-associated rats.
The genetic basis of the detected resistances and transmission mechanisms are under extensive investigations in WP3 by means of a full range of molecular biology tools, from PCR and nucleotide sequence analysis to DNA microarray. WP4 has disseminated ACEART results through the web site (the www.aceart.net now accessible through http://d1128636.pre58.site-manager.com/asp/default.asp?p=3) , 3 leaflets distributed to stakeholders via the project mailing list and 3 open meetings (one organized and managed in collaboration with EFSA).
The emergence and evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria represents a major financial and societal cost. Despite concern that the use of antibiotics in the food chain contributes to the development of resistant bacteria, research has yet to provide the data necessary for the development of an effective risk management strategy. Risk assessment of antibiotic resistant, non pathogenic bacteria present in the food chain requires data on the sources of these bacteria, their genetic composition and potential for resistance transfer. The assessment of drug resistance is a mandatory requirement in the approval process of EFSA for bacterial feed additives and plant protecting agents.
Unfortunately no official or approved analytical tools are available for this assessment, so hampering either the industrial development or the safety evaluation procedures of EFSA.
This project, named Assessment and Critical Evaluation of Antibiotic Resistance Transferability in Food Chain (ACE-ART) was aimed to provide a critical evaluation of the role of antibiotic use in agriculture and in the prophylaxis and treatment of disease in humans. Unlike other studies, focused on pathogens, this project is focused on non-pathogenic bacteria. Strains belonging to Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Lactococcus and Streptococcus thermophilus have been used as they can be found in a wide range of habitats. Moreover, they are industrially important bacteria, used as starter cultures for fermented food. Within this project the importance of these bacteria as a source of antibiotic resistance genes (Work package 1) will be assessed. The project will also examine the transmission of resistance in the environment and in the animal and human gut (WP 2) and establish the genetic basis of the detected resistances and transmission mechanisms (WP 3). Dissemination of results and links with consumers' organization will be provided by WP4; an industrial platform will assure the link with 14 industries producing starter cultures. This research will establish a dataset on the occurrence and transmission of antibiotic resistance, which will provide the scientific basis for an antibiotic application strategy to inhibit further development of resistance in pathogenic bacteria.
The two most relevant results were the development of a phenotypic procedure to evaluate the drug resistance profile of food bacteria; this procedure is now the ISO method.
The second achievement was to provide new MIC to EFSA for safety evaluation of these bacteria; data provided by ACE-ART has been used by the EFSA panel FEEDAP to update the guidelines for bacterial safety evaluation.
Both achievements described are example of already applied results of ACE-ART. In addition methodology developed by ACE-ART and MIC can be used by industry in the process of development of new starter or probiotic bacteria.