Testudines as sentinels for monitoring the dissemination of antibiotic resistance in marine environments: an integrative review

Kezia Drane*, Roger Huerlimann, Michelle Power, Anna Whelan, Ellen Ariel, Madoc Sheehan, Robert Kinobe*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)
    32 Downloads (Pure)


    Dissemination of antibiotic resistance (AR) in marine environments is a global concern with a propensity to affect public health and many ecosystems worldwide. We evaluated the use of sea turtles as sentinel species for monitoring AR in marine environments. In this field, antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been commonly identified by using standard culture and sensitivity tests, leading to an overrepresentation of specific, culturable bacterial classes in the available literature. AR was detected against all major antibiotic classes, but the highest cumulative global frequency of resistance in all represented geographical sites was against the beta-lactam class by a two-fold difference compared to all other antibiotics. Wastewater facilities and turtle rehabilitation centres were associated with higher incidences of multidrug-resistant bacteria (MDRB) accounting for an average of 58% and 49% of resistant isolates, respectively. Furthermore, a relatively similar prevalence of MDRB was seen in all studied locations. These data suggest that anthropogenically driven selection pressures for the development of AR in sea turtles and marine environments are relatively similar worldwide. There is a need, however, to establish direct demonstrable associations between AR in sea turtles in their respective marine environments with wastewater facilities and other anthropogenic activities worldwide.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number775
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Anthropogenic pollution
    • Antimicrobial pollution
    • Horizontal gene transfer
    • Multidrug-resistant bacteria
    • Wastewater treatment plants
    • Turtle rehabilitation centres


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