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Antibiotic Resistant Gene Discovery

Canadian chicken products contributed $2.5 billion of cash receipts to farming operations in 2016. To help protect this important sector from diseases, such as bacterial infections that could devastate flocks and impact human health, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists are working on ways to prevent them.

For example, a research team at AAFC’s Guelph Research and Development Centre has discovered a new antibiotic resistant gene in the bacterium Salmonella enterica Heidelberg.

The gene provides resistance against the important broad-spectrum antibiotic, fosfomycin, which is normally given to people as a treatment for urinary tract infections that are resistant to many other antibiotics.

Until now, the scientists have found only limited resistance to the fosfomycin antibiotic among Salmonella species, but this new gene can dramatically increase resistance to fosfomycin. There are concerns that resistance to this antibiotic could spread if we are not careful about using fosfomycin.

The AAFC science team is recommending that alternative chicken production techniques and vigilant monitoring of the spread of fosfomycin resistance in bacteria is needed in order to preserve the use of this powerful antibiotic. The researchers are currently developing a product for chickens created from berry waste that shows potential for antibiotic resistant bacteria while increasing the immunity and productivity of birds.

This research, which is part of the Genomic Research and Development Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance, plays a critical role in providing a safe and healthy food supply for Canadians.

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