Making aquaculture safer and more sustainable through the understanding of antibiotic-resistance sources and pathways


CNR partners during their sampling activities in a semisubmerged
channel connecting the sea and inland waters.
Left to right: Stefano Amalfitano, Grazia Marina Quero, Naomi Massaccesi, Marco Basili, Marco Melita. @Naomi Massaccesi

4 April 2023

As part of the ARENA project activities, two sampling campaigns were carried out during the summer and winter of 2022/2023 in the “charming pearl” of the Ligurian Riviera di Levante (Portovenere, Italy).

ARENA is working to produce a complete overview of the antibiotic [AB]-resistome, the pathogenic signature and the AB contamination in open and closed fish farms as well as their potential contamination sources and pathways. The ARENA consortium is now processing the samples collected, with preliminary data showing the wide presence of antibiotic resistance in the studied mariculture area although at different levels according to the studied site.

In particular, analyses will be performed in order to explore the presence and abundance of contamination sources in seawater, farmed fish (seabass and seabream species), feedings and, only for open sea cages, sediments and benthic biota living below farm cages. The aim is to assess the potential trophic transfer of antibiotic resistance and pathogens and to understand in which environmental compartment the selective pressure exerted by antibiotics is more effective.

Next activities will focus on the performing of a sampling campaign in Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) and setting up biosensors and early warning tools to detect AB resistance and pathogenic bacteria from aquaculture samples.

This will help to open a window into understanding the occurrence and the sources of antibiotic resistance to the improvement of fish farm practices while guaranteeing a sustainable development of this important food sector and to assurance a safer food production, higher environmental protection and effective guide to tackling the antimicrobial resistance threat to human and animal health.

IMG_3166 2

The “charming pearl” of the Ligurian Riviera di Levante (Portovenere, Italy) @Naomi Massaccesi


Marco Melita during sampling activities in one of seven sampling sites located between the aquaculture plant and the coastline. @Grazia Marina Quero


Fish farming cage systems. @Naomi Massaccesi