Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Mar 20;18(6):3218. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18063218.
The emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens due to worldwide antibiotic use is raising concern in several settings, including aquaculture. In this work, the selection of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) was evaluated after exposure of zebrafish to oxytetracycline (OTC) for two months, followed by a recovery period. The selection of ARB in water and fish was determined using selective media. The abundance of tetA genes was estimated through qPCR. Higher prevalence of ARB was measured in all samples exposed to the antibiotic when compared to control samples, although statistical significance was only achieved five days after exposure. Isolates recovered from samples exposed to the antibiotic were affiliated with Pseudomonas and Stenotrophomonas. Various antibiotic susceptibility profiles were detected and 37% of the isolates displayed multidrug resistance (MDR). The selection of the tetA gene was confirmed by qPCR at the highest OTC concentration tested. Two MDR isolates, tested using zebrafish embryos, caused significant mortality, indicating a potential impact on fish health and survival. Overall, our work highlights the potential impact of antibiotic contamination in the selection of potential pathogenic ARB and ARGS.