Shotgun metagenomic sequencing of bulk tank milk filters reveals the role of Moraxellaceae and Enterobacteriaceae as carriers of antimicrobial resistance genes
In the present context of growing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) concern, understanding the distribution of AMR determinants in food matrices such as milk is crucial to protect consumers and maintain high food safety standards. Herein, the resistome of different dairy farms was investigated through a shotgun metagenomic sequencing approach, taking advantage of in-line milk filters as promising tools. The application of both the reads-based and the assembly-based approaches has allowed the identification of numerous AMR determinants, enabling a comprehensive resolution of the resistome. Notably most of the species harboring AMR genes were predicted to be Gram-negative genera, namely Enterobacter, Acinetobacter, Escherichia, and Pseudomonas, pointing out the role of these bacteria as reservoirs of AMR determinants. In this context, the use of de novo assembly has allowed a more holistic AMR detection strategy, while the reads-based approach has enabled the detection of AMR genes from low abundance bacteria, usually undetectable by assembly-based methods. The application of both reads-based and assembly-based approaches, despite being computationally demanding, has facilitated the comprehensive characterization of a food chain resistome, while also allowing the construction of complete metagenome assembled genomes and the investigation of mobile genetic elements. Our findings suggest that milk filters can successfully be used to investigate the resistome of bulk tank milk through the application of the shotgun metagenomic sequencing. In accordance with our results, raw milk can be considered a source of AMR bacteria and genes; this points out the importance of properly informing food business operators about the risk associated with poor hygiene practices in the dairy production environment and consumers of the potential microbial food safety risks derived from raw milk products consumption. Translating these findings as risk assessment outputs heralds the next generation of food safety controls.
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