Community Composition and Antibiotic Resistance of Bacteria In Bottlenose Dolphins Tursiops truncatus: Potential Impact of 2010 BP Oil Spill

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Ocean Science and Engineering


Aquatic contamination, oil spills in particular, could lead to the accumulation of antibiotic resistance by promoting selection for and/or transfer of resistance genes. However, there have been few studies on antibiotic resistance in marine mammals in relation to environmental disturbances, specifically oil contaminations. Here we initiated a study on antibiotic resistance bacteria in bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus in relation to oil contamination following the 2010 BP Oil Spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Bacterial communities and antibiotic resistance prevalence one year after the 2010 BP Oil Spill were compared between Barataria Bay (BB) and Sarasota Bay (SB) by applying the rarefaction curve method, and (generalized) linear mixed models. The results showed that the most common bacteria included Vibrio, Shewanella, Bacillus and Pseudomonas. The prevalence of antibiotic resistance was high in the bacterial isolates at both bays. Though bacterial diversity did not differ significantly among water or dolphin samples, and antibiotic resistance did not differ significantly among water samples between the two bays, antibiotic resistance and multi-drug resistance in dolphin samples was significantly higher in the BB than in the SB, mainly attributed to the resistance to E, CF, FEP and SXT. We also found sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim-resistant Stenotrophomonas maltophilia the first time in the natural aquatic environment. The higher antibiotic resistance in the dolphins in BB is likely attributed to 2010 BP Oil Spill as we expected SB, a more urbanized bay area, would have had higher antibiotic resistance based on the previous studies. The antibiotic resistance data gathered in this research will fill in the important data gaps and contributes to the broader spatial-scale emerging studies on antibiotic resistance in aquatic environments.

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Science of the Total Environment



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