Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

The origin and spread of resistant bacteria through the food of animal origin

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.04.05  Biotechnical sciences  Veterinarian medicine  Sanitary protection of animal origin food 

Code Science Field
B230  Biomedical sciences  Microbiology, bacteriology, virology, mycology 

Code Science Field
4.03  Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences  Veterinary science 
antimicrobial resistance, MRSA, VRE, ESBL/AmpC, carbapenemase, colistin resistance, food safety
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (13)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  30378  PhD Majda Golob  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  182 
2.  14880  PhD Igor Gruntar  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  112 
3.  25841  PhD Urška Jamnikar Ciglenečki  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  119 
4.  18888  PhD Andrej Kirbiš  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  212 
5.  23320  PhD Uroš Krapež  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  176 
6.  31363  PhD Manja Križman  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  48 
7.  24296  PhD Darja Kušar  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  193 
8.  11133  PhD Matjaž Ocepek  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  467 
9.  24612  PhD Mateja Pate  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  277 
10.  16213  PhD Štefan Pintarič  Animal production  Researcher  2016 - 2018  260 
11.  33447  Urška Zajc  Veterinarian medicine  Technical associate  2016 - 2018  74 
12.  12682  PhD Irena Zdovc  Veterinarian medicine  Head  2016 - 2018  462 
13.  08023  PhD Olga Zorman Rojs  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  416 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0406  University of Ljubljana, Veterinary Faculty  Ljubljana  1627139  10,132 
Bacterial infections are still among the most important causes of human and animal diseases. Development of antibiotics and their usage were promising an effective solution to the problem, but their excessive and indiscriminate use in various areas led to a rapid development of a secondary resistance. In the veterinary medicine, also in Slovenia, it can be noticed that infections - caused by bacteria with a similar level of secondary resistance as previously known only for humans - are already emerging in the pet animals. The greatest concern is caused by the presence of resistant bacteria in the herds of livestock animals, which are an important part of the food chain and can, therefore, indirectly affect human health in a marked way. Bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics from various pharmacological groups (multiple drug resistance, MDR) represent a particular problem. Among them, bacteria with very specific resistance patterns are of great concern, especially the methicillin-resistant staphylococci (MRS), MDR Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium, and enterobacteria producing extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL) and carbapenemases. In the last year, much attention was attracted to isolates of enterobacteria showing resistance to colistin, which is used as a therapeutic antibiotic for livestock animals, particularly poultry and pigs. Namely, due to the emergence of bacteria that are resistant to carbapenems, colistin has become a reserve antibiotic (critical important antimicrobials, CIA) in human medicine for the treatment of such infections. Since it is possible that bacteria, due to the use of colistin for the treatment of livestock, have acquired genes for the resistance, it is necessary to thoroughly investigate the situation regarding resistance in animals. Particularly resistant bacteria are isolated from various species and categories of animals, both in pet animal species and in animals entering the food chain. In most cases, these bacteria can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa, thus they are already mentioned in the literature as zoonotic agents. First antibiotics were developed against staphylococci, where mechanisms of resistance started to emerge soon after the first application. The increase of resistance was also connected to the fact that genes coding for the resistance can be transmitted via the mobile genetic units such as plasmids and transposons. Due to the production of beta-lactamases (e.g. penicillinases), penicillin was no longer effective, therefore new antibiotics were needed. In 1959, the problem was temporarily solved when the first semi-synthetic penicillin was synthesized, called methicillin. However, two years later the first resistant strains already appeared, but they had a different mechanism of resistance. These strains were able to synthesize a penicillin-binding protein of a special structure (PBP2), against which the antibiotic was ineffective and bacteria were able to survive normally. Initially, strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) were problematic only in human medicine, where they accounted for the most important hospital-acquired infections (HA-MRSA) and later also for the community-acquired (CA-MRSA). However, when MRSA of a special type ST398, called livestock-associated MRSA (LA-MRSA), was discovered to colonize pigs from several farms in the Netherlands in 2007, the MRSA problem obtained a much wider dimension. Due to the free movement of goods and services in the EU, LA-MRSA has rapidly spread across all EU countries, including Slovenia. Resistance is coded by a specific mecA gene, which was also found in isolates of coagulase-positive staphylococci from animals (e.g. S. aureus, S. pseudintermedius, S. schleiferi subsp. coagulans). In addition to the mecA gene, some other similar genes coding for the methicillin resistance are known, among which mecC is certainly the most important. It was first described i
Significance for science
Introduction of modern diagnostic methods   As given in section 16 (objective no. 6), the most important methods have already been implemented, but they are rapidly being up-dated and modernized, thus it is necessary to continuously follow new trends. In the scope of our project, it is expected that training of personnel for the new methods will also be performed.   Since specialized expertise and very expensive equipment are needed, it is expected that molecular diagnostics for the typing of particularly resistant bacteria (including genes for MRSA, VRE, ESBL/AmpC, carbapenemases and other resistance genes) will remain exclusively in the specialized laboratories, mainly in the National reference laboratory for the resistance to antimicrobial drugs.   Harmonizing the methodology will enable full comparability of the results, both in Slovenia as well as with other EU countries.   Knowing the epidemiological situation In the scope of the proposed project, new approaches will be developed for analyzing the presence and characteristics of resistant bacteria. Tracking the resistance of bacteria, isolated from animals, shows great importance in many areas. In a strict veterinary sense, it contributes to the effective treatment of many bacterial diseases in animals. Among these bacteria, many are regarded as zoonotic agents, thus a direct impact on human health is also addressed. In this regard, food contamination is of particular importance as enabling the transmission of resistant bacteria simultaneously to a larger number of people.   Susceptibility testing of bacteria is in the common interest, since it is important to know the level of general resistance of bacteria to a particular group of antibiotics in a certain area. Therefore, it is expected that the systematic isolation and testing of bacteria will show the critical points when contamination with various resistant bacteria is occurring and in which animal species or categories contamination most frequently occurs. Thus, it will also be easier to estimate in which segments there is an increased risk for the transmission of such strains to people.   Contribution to science   The topic that will be addressed in the scope of our project, is currently one of the most issued in the world in the field of human and animal health protection. Therefore, it is expected that the results of the study could be published in renowned international journals with impact factor and presented at relevant professional and scientific conferences at home and abroad. Moreover, the strategy of EU requires from the individual Member States to establish databases of resistant strains, with emphasis on the detection of multiple resistant strains, which could seriously threaten the health of humans and animals throughout the EU.   In the scope of research conducted for the proposed project, at least one doctoral dissertation will be prepared.   We are planning to develop new methodological solutions in the technological and analytical sense. The basic and original scientific contributions obtained in the scope of the project will be presented to both national and international professional and scientific community.   The research topic of the project is aligned with the priorities of the National Research Programme of the Republic of Slovenia, where the promising topics for Slovenia are defined as those that enable the acquisition of more profound knowledge, scientific propulsiveness and economic efficiency. The study is also in line with the priorities of the third pillar of the Slovenian Technology Platform Food for Life. In addition, the H2020 program also includes an element of health, which is closely related to food and nutrition. With the introduction of new methodologies in the scope of our project work, the opportunity will be given to participate in the project consortium, researching on food and health.
Significance for the country
Due to the growing consumer demand a poultry meat market greatly increased in recent years. Poultry meat has relatively low priced, easy to prepare and healthier than beef and pork, since it contains less saturated fatty acids. Production of poultry meat in Slovenia is export-oriented and increase every  year (2002: 7,000 tonnes, 2011: 22,000 tonnes). Pork production in Slovenia is declining in recent years, therefore our goal is production of better quality, safe for the consumer and consequently more competitive. Knowing the critical points of meat and meat products contamination is necessary for reducing the contamination of food by resistant bacteria. Good meat quality provides a significant advantage in the strong global meat market.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2016, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2016, final report
Views history