Antibiotic Resistance and Pathogenic Signature in Marine and Freshwater Aquaculture Systems.



Project coordinator: Dr Gian Marco LUNA

National Research Council (CNR) - Italy

Communication contact:  Dr Elisa BALDRIGHI - elisa.baldrighi(at)

Dr Sara Rodriguez-Mozaz Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA) Spain
Prof. Michael J. Schoening University of Applied Sciences Aachen (FHA) Germany
Prof. Frank Delvigne University of Liège (ULG) Belgium
Prof. Patrick Wagner KU Leuven (KUL) Belgium


The project aims to improve the quality assessment of aquaculture practices and products by exploring the fate of antibiotics (AB) and microbial contaminants across the water cycle.

Contamination levels will be assessed from sources (effluents, river outflows) to end points (aquaculture plants) and final food products (fish fillets), along with the antibiotic resistome and pathogenic signature in farm surrounding aquatic environments in open (mariculture) and recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), which mainly consist of indoor tanks in which fish is grown using low or no ABs or chemicals. For mariculture only, the assessment of the same contaminants will be also performed in benthic biota beneath fish cages; moreover, in order to take into account seasonal variations, we will perform analyses at contrasting seasons (e.g., summer, generally characterized by a higher anthropogenic pressure, and winter, with a lower anthropogenic pressure).

Novel early-warning tools for the rapid detection of antibiotic residues (flow cytometry-based), antibiotic-resistance genes (ARGs) (high-throughput sequencing-based), and microbial pathogens (sensor-based) in environmental and biological samples will be optimized.

ARENA will contribute to elucidate the significance of antibiotic-related issues, finally providing a cross-disciplinary approach for risk assessment and future operative efforts to mitigate the magnification of antibiotic resistance and pathogenicity in aquaculture settings.

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Several Associated Partners will support the ARENA project by providing seawater samples, by doing sampling campaigns together, and by helping to validate the developed sensors. NORCE, as subcontractor, will cover the set-up, optimization and validation of a nanopore-based method for the assessment of ARGs and ARBs in aquaculture settings.

Expected research results

  • Results on antibiotic resistance and pathogenic contamination in aquaculture environments;
  • Sharing of the approach and guiding our work towards applications and economic implications in different fields

For more details on the work plan and expected impact of the project consult the AquaticPollutants booklet.

Keywords: Aquaculture; antibiotic contamination level; antibiotic-resistome; sensor-based approaches; biomimetic bacterial receptors

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published on 2021/10/15 10:29:00 GMT+1 last modified 2022-07-08T11:13:31+01:00