The World Health Organization identified the spread of pathogens capable of resisting even the most powerful antibiotics as one of the world's most pressing public health crisis. Because antibiotics are readily released in the environment via waste products, the presence of antibiotic residues and antibiotic resistance genes are now considered as important indicators of human activity. The effects of such pollution are only starting to be understood. For one, antibiotic pollution promotes the evolution of antibiotic resistance in local environments. In addition, even though much work established that antibiotics can disrupt the human microbiomes, the possible consequences of antibiotic pollution on wild animals remains to be investigated. Using a combination of functional genomics and metagenomics approaches, I will present recent work investigating the temporal dynamic of antibiotic resistance genes in an isolated Arctic environment as well as the possible effect of antibiotic pollution on host microbiomes in a fish model.
Our work shows that the effects of antibiotic and antibiotic resistance pollution are complex and far-reaching. First, we should that clinically relevant resistance genes are now found in the Canadian High Arctic, one of the most remote environments on earth. In addition, we show that low levels of antibiotic pollution in fresh water have the potential to severely disrupt microbiomes associated with fish species. Our findings, not only demonstrates that antibiotic pollution is increasing the frequency of antibiotic-resistance bacteria in our environment, but could also weaken the immunity of animals depending on healthy microbiomes. The latter is especially important when considering the possible effects of antibiotic on endangered species.