• Aqui-Litt, conducted from 2017 to 2020 on the New Aquitaine coast, made it possible to draw up an

    inventory of the bacteria and fungi present in the sea as well as a map of microorganisms resistant to antibiotics.

    The results of this large-scale study were compared with hospital and city medicine records.

  • Nova-litt, launched in 2022, will make it possible to extend the work of Aqui-Litt, by going into more detailed research in terms of the nature of microorganisms.

  • In this work, the porosity between man and his environment shows that marine germs can have an influence on human health.

The sprinkler watered.

"We have always believed that the flow was unidirectional: that there was

contamination from the discharges of humans and animals towards the sea, but there is also a potential boomerang effect coming from the sea to be considered", warns Fatima M. 'Zali, director of Aquitaine Microbiologie and scientific director of the Aqui-Litt project (see box).

A link has been established between Vibrios (predominant marine bacteria) and those observed in patients at the Bordeaux University Hospital, partner of this “One Health” study.

"The sea can generate resistant germs that can infect humans, we must

monitor the evolution of this antibiotic resistance in the sea", continues Fatima M'Zali.

Novalitt, launched in 2022, will make it possible to extend the work of Aqui-Litt, by going into more detailed research on the nature of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses and fungi) and on the modes of contamination .

Protecting yourself against a future Sars-Cov 2

“Perhaps like the story of Sars-cov 2, which probably comes from a

wild animal, the sea is a reservoir of germs that can cause epidemics or

pandemics, advances the scientific director of the project.

All because of global

warming and pollution.

Potentially, certain marine species can

carry their own viruses and bacteria which, through exchanges between micro

-organisms, can contaminate humans.

The Nova-Litt study will focus on these germs present in the sea and they will be

sampled in the laboratory to be compared with those collected from hospital patients.

"We warn about discharges into the sea but be careful, the sea can infect us too," insists Fatima M'Zali.

For example, a surfer may have gastritis after swimming, but if he has a wound it can be more dangerous.


The presence of antibiotic-resistant germs attested

The Aqui-Litt study made it possible to map 2,630 micro-organisms from the sea but also

those taken from city medicine patients, farm animals near the coast in order to compare all these samples with the readings hospitable.

Over 300 species of microorganisms have been identified, some of which are resistant.

Result: marine germs that are resistant to antimicrobials have been characterized but we cannot yet say that humans are the direct cause.

“It is certain in any case that they have acquired this resistance because their marine colleagues do not have it, points out Fatima M'Zali.

It is not yet known if it is the bacteria of the human which transmitted its gene or if it is residues of antibiotics in the sea which made that they evolved exactly like the hospital bacteria.

It is near the coast that these antibiotic-resistant bacteria are concentrated, even if it should be noted that 80% of marine bacteria are not.

What recommendations are emerging?

Today, the authorities' alerts are based on the amount of faecal bacteria in the sea. This is what prevails in a decision to ban bathing, for example.

This research calls for a more qualitative approach: "perhaps a marker such as Vibrio should be added", suggests the researcher.

Upstream, the most important thing would be to encourage, as the WHO does, to reduce the use of antibiotics, in humans and in veterinary medicine.

More reinforced water filtration solutions, the use of bacteriophages (viruses that eat bacteria) or the promotion of cultures of beneficial microorganisms (some produce antibiotics themselves) are also avenues.

Most marine bacteria grow at low temperatures, some at 15 degrees but not at 37 degrees, the human body temperature.

“The chances of them infecting us are thus low, but with global warming, they adapt and we are approaching the temperature of humans”, also observes the scientific manager of the study.

This research is a world first on this scale of sampling and could serve as models for the study of other coastlines.


Antibiotic resistance: A molecule discovered in the intestine of a worm offers new hope


More than a million people died from antibiotic-resistant infections in 2019

Aqui Litt

Financed by the European Union via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region and the CEVA Santé Animale group, the Aqui-Litt study has made it possible to establish a map of the marine flora of the coast, La Rochelle to Bayonne.

  • Global warming

  • Antibiotic

  • Ocean

  • Planet

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