Into the sea: antimicrobial resistance determinants in the microbiota of little penguins (Eudyptula minor)

Ida C. Lundbäck, Fiona K. McDougall, Peter Dann, David J. Slip, Rachael Gray, Michelle L. Power*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Terrestrial and aquatic birds have been proposed as sentinels for the spread of antimicrobial resistant bacteria, but few species have been investigated specifically in the context of AMR in the marine ecosystem. This study contrasts the occurrence of class 1 integrons and associated antimicrobial resistance genes in wild and captive little penguins (Eudyptula minor), an Australian seabird with local population declines. PCR screening of faecal samples (n = 448) revealed a significant difference in the prevalence of class 1 integrons in wild and captive groups, 3.2% and 44.7% respectively, with genes that confer resistance to streptomycin, spectinomycin, trimethoprim and multidrug efflux pumps detected. Class 1 integrons were not detected in two clinically relevant bacterial species, Klebsiella pneumoniae or Escherichia coli, isolated from penguin faeces. The presence of class 1 integrons in the little penguin supports the use of marine birds as sentinels of AMR in marine environments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number104697
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages8
    JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


    • Antimicrobial resistance
    • Sentinel species
    • Microbial pollution
    • Escherichia coli
    • Klebsiella pneumoniae


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