Complexities in understanding antimicrobial resistance across domesticated animal, human, and environmental systems

David W. Graham, Gilles Bergeron, Megan W. Bourassa, James Dickson, Filomena Gomes, Adina Howe, Laura H. Kahn, Paul S. Morley, H. Morgan Scott, Shabbir Simjee, Randall S. Singer, Tara C. Smith, Carina Storrs, Thomas E. Wittum

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a significant threat to both human and animal health. The spread of AMR bacteria and genes across systems can occur through a myriad of pathways, both related and unrelated to agriculture, including via wastewater, soils, manure applications, direct exchange between humans and animals, and food exposure. Tracing origins and drivers of AMR bacteria and genes is challenging due to the array of contexts and the complexity of interactions overlapping health practice, microbiology, genetics, applied science and engineering, as well as social and human factors. Critically assessing the diverse and sometimes contradictory AMR literature is a valuable step in identifying tractable mitigation options to stem AMR spread. In this article we review research on the nonfoodborne spread of AMR, with a focus on domesticated animals and the environment and possible exposures to humans. Attention is especially placed on delineating possible sources and causes of AMR bacterial phenotypes, including underpinning the genetics important to human and animal health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-30
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
J.D. received support from the National Pork Board. P.M. received support from JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding and Feedlot Health Management Services. T.C.S. received funding to assist in a clinical trial from GOJO related to general hand hygiene. R.S.S. received funding from the Animal Agriculture Alliance, Elanco Animal Health, Zoetis, and Bayer Animal Health. All the other authors declare no competing interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of New York Academy of Sciences.


  • animal agriculture
  • antibiotic use
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • fecal matter
  • soil and wastewater


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