Main research question/goal
In this project the influence of food production and storage of food products transfer of antibiotic resistance was studied. The food production chain is not only a passive vector in the transfer of antimicrobial resistance to human. It also influences the viability of resistant bacteria and transfer of resistant genes. In food-related environment biofilms are often present. There would exist a relation between biofilm forming and plasmid transfer via conjugation. The food industry uses more and more minimal processing techniques based on combinations of stress factors. Possibly the processing and treatment of food products would lead to development of antibiotic resistance. Research approach
In the first part of the project we focused on the optimization of methods to study transfer of antimicrobial resistance in Gram-negative as well as Gram-positive bacteria. In a second part we analyzed the influence of biofilms on the development of antimicrobial resistance. In a third part we studied the influence of food-related stress conditions on transfer of antimicrobial resistance. The latter was validated on cooked ham.Relevance/Valorisation
The results show that biofilms may be a risk factor for the spread of antibiotic resistance and that cooling and modified atmosphere packaging, two common preservation techniques used to prevent bacterial growth in the food industry, do not necessarily prevent plasmid transfer. On cooked ham plasmid transfer was only observed with densities which exceed the food safety criteria or guidelines. These results were disseminated via posters and oral presentations at national and international symposia and were also published in scientific journals. They contribute to the PhD research of Eva Van Meervenne.
Ugent - Fac. Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen