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By using bacterial whole genome sequencing, scientists from the Leibniz Research Alliance INFECTIONS showed that contaminated houseflies (Musca domestica) carried antimicrobial-resistant bacteria from agriculture farms into urban habitation areas.

As part of their research, the team examined a pig farm in Brandenburg, Germany, and its surrounding area for the presence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria of the genus Escherischia coli (E. coli). This enterobacterium can cause severe urinary tract and intestinal infections in humans that can lead to death.

The results of bacterial genomic analysis could show that a large number of E. coli bacteria showed resistance in the samples and that contaminated houseflies carried these bacteria from the farm over distances of at least 2 km to urban residential areas. The observed proximity of contaminated flies to human households poses a risk of transmission of antimicrobial-resistant enteric pathogens from livestock to humans.

Scientists from the DSMZ - German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures-, the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) e. V and the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomics (ATB) were involved in this work. The results have now been published in the current issue of the journal Environmental Microbiology.


Behrens W.*, Kolte B.*, Junker V.*, Frentrup M., Dolsdorf C., Börger M., Jaleta M., Kabelitz T., Amon T., Werner D., Nübel U. (2023) Bacterial genome sequencing tracks the housefly-associated dispersal of fluoroquinolone- and cephalosporin-resistant Escherichia coli from a pig farm. Environmental Microbiology. In press. *equal contribution. PMID: 36772962.