Antibiotic-resistant genes and bacteria as evolving contaminants of emerging concerns (e-CEC): is it time to include evolution in risk assessment?

Vassallo, Alberto ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3505-1097, Kett, Steve ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0987-5001, Purchase, Diane ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8071-4385 and Marvasi, Massimiliano (2021) Antibiotic-resistant genes and bacteria as evolving contaminants of emerging concerns (e-CEC): is it time to include evolution in risk assessment? Antibiotics, 10 (9) , e1066. ISSN 2079-6382 [Article] (doi:10.3390/antibiotics10091066)

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Abstract

The pressing issue of the abundance of antibiotic resistance genes and resistant bacteria in the environment (ARGs and ARB, respectively) requires procedures for assessing the risk to health. The chemo-centric environmental risk assessment models identify hazard(s) in a dose–response manner, obtaining exposure, toxicity, risk, impact and policy. However, this risk assessment approach based on ARGs/ARB evaluation from a quantitative viewpoint shows high unpredictability because ARGs/ARB cannot be considered as standard hazardous molecules: ARB duplicate and ARGs evolve within a biological host. ARGs/ARB are currently listed as Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC). In light of such characteristics, we propose to define ARGs/ARB within a new category of evolving CEC (or e-CEC). ARGs/ARB, like any other evolving determinants (e.g., viruses, bacteria, genes), escape environmental controls. When they do so, just one molecule left remaining at a control point can form the origin of a new dangerous and selection-responsive population. As a consequence, perhaps it is time to acknowledge this trait and to include evolutionary concepts within modern risk assessment of e-CEC. In this perspective we analyze the evolutionary responses most likely to influence risk assessment, and we speculate on the means by which current methods could measure evolution. Further work is required to implement and exploit such experimental procedures in future risk assessment protocols.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): ARGs, ARB, antibiotics, antibiotic resistances, risk assessment, evolution
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences
Item ID: 33780
Notes on copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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Depositing User: Jisc Publications Router
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2021 07:10
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2021 08:52
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/33780

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