Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and marine plastics: Can food packaging litter act as a dispersal mechanism for AMR in oceanic environments?
This study examined the carriage of antibiotic resistance in bacteria isolated from Food-related Marine Macroplastic Litter (FRMMPL) around the coastline of Northern Ireland. FRMMPL was collected from 18 coastal sites during November/December 2018 and the bacteria from the surface of the plastic examined for their susceptibility to 10 common human antibiotics. Ten bacterial genera and 13 species were identified from the plastic materials. Bacteria isolated from plastic material were most resistant to the beta-lactam antibiotics (ampicillin, ceftazidime and cefpodoxime) (98.1% resistant) and least resistant to the tetracycline group, minocycline (16.1% resistant). This study is significant as it highlights a new potential route of dispersal of such antibiotic-resistance in the environment, which may act as carriers of such bacteria by introducing them into new marine ecosystems, as well as potential pathways having impacts on animal and human health, until their final interaction with the human foodchain.