Is flooding in Mexico City a source of antimicrobial resistant bacteria?

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About This Project

During the rainy season, Mexico City is severely affected by floods. Poor and marginal areas suffer the most from flooding. Innumerable low-income families are forced to live in flooded houses. Floodwaters in Mexico City are often contaminated with sewage waters, and flooding is correlated with an increased incidence of diarrhea and other health conditions. We aim to characterize bacteria in flood waters to determine if antibiotic-resistant bacteria are present there.

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What is the context of this research?

Floods are a critical problem in Mexico City and the State of Mexico. 80 hectares of urbanized land in the Chalco Valley- one of the poorest regions in the country (INEGI 2021)- was inundated with wastewaters. Flooding occurred by the rupture and discharge of La Compañía Canal, an open-air sewage canal. This is an example of a common problem in Mexico during the rainy season; flooding water is contaminated with sewage water, a source of many pathogenic bacteria and antibiotic-resistant genes. In many cases, floods occur in poor neighborhoods and the contaminated waters enter the houses, This close contact with sewage water puts families and the general population in danger of transmission of antimicrobial-resistant diseases.


What is the significance of this project?

This study, in the end, will show the health dangers of floods in poor neighborhoods of Mexico City. In order to reduce disease transmission associated with inundations, multidimensional interventions are required. Our findings can be used to encourage governmental action to prevent and alleviate families' contact with sewage waters and improve the quality of life for poor and vulnerable communities. Also, establishing the antibiotic resistance of bacteria in these waters will help treat diarrheas and other infections resulting from the flood with sewage waters in children and adults.


What are the goals of the project?

This project aims to reduce the burden of infections associated with floods in Mexico City's poor neighborhoods by characterizing the pathogens present in floodwaters and determining if they are antibiotic-resistant.Samples from water and sludges will be collected immediately following a flood in Chalco Valley and Tlahuac and five days after the water recedes. Samples will be immediately transported to the laboratory. Physicochemical properties of the samples as temperature, pH, etc will be measured. Samples also will be plated in antibiotic selective media. Isolate colonies will be used for DNA extraction. The 16S rRNA gene will be amplified and will be sent for Sanger sequencing. Multi-resistant bacteria will be selected for whole-genome sequencing




Budget

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Culture media and antibiotics (at least 5 different including new generation antibiotics) will be used to grow bacteria present in the water and sludges. We will have at least 5 samples for each flooding, including water and sludges. Reagents, biological buffers, DNA extraction kit, purification reagents, electrophoresis gel reagents will be used to extract and amplify DNA for the 16S rRNA gene amplification. Multi-resistant bacteria will be selected for whole-genome sequencing. Anaerobic jars will wi used to cultivate anaerobic bacteria. This budget can help us expand our bank of pathogens and bacteria found in water samples from floods in Mexico City.

Endorsed by

This project will answer critical questions in the field of antimicrobial resistance. Dr. Romero had extensive training at international universities, in microbial physiology and genetics, pathogenesis and antimicrobial molecules. I am sure that her passion for science, her knowledge, persistence, hard work and enthusiasm will lead her team to generate many useful results for the scientific, clinical and medical sectors that together will contribute significantly to the knowledge of a problem worldwide, bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Flooding with sewage water is a critical problem for the affected population. The characterization of bacterias in floodwater and their antibiotic resistance genes is critical to understanding the severity of the problems that they can cause. This work will alert the governmental authorities about the scope of the infectious diseases that these pathogens can cause. Dr. Romero had wide experience working with pathogenic bacterias. She is the best person to answer these questions. I am excited to see the results of this work!

Flag iconProject Timeline

We have samples from water and sediments collected during and after floods in Mexico City. We have cultured some samples and now we have isolated bacteria. Next, we will continue looking for aerobic and anaerobe bacteria. After, we will characterize the antibiotic-resistant patrons from the flooding bacteria. Then, we will select the most promising bacteria to perform a whole-genome sequence in order to understand the basis of their virulence and resistance to antibiotics.

Nov 23, 2021

Project Launched

Jan 03, 2022

Bacteria culturing and isolation

Feb 07, 2022

Antibiotic Profiles of our isolates

Mar 07, 2022

Sequencing of selected bacteria

Apr 04, 2022

Data analysis and interpretation

Meet the Team

Alba Romero
Alba Romero
Associate Profesor

Affiliates

University Autonomous of Mexico
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Team Bio

Bertha Espino is studying Pharmaceutical Biological Chemistry at UNAM. She imparted the conference Microbial diversity in the first congress of omnisciencia. She likes doing cultural, sport, and more.


Fernando Gómez is an active self-taught student. He is studying Pharmaceutical Biological Chemistry at UNAM. He received the Diploma of Achievement for being one of the top three students. He likes to practice sports and a lot more.

Alba Romero

During my childhood, I live in a semirural area that awaked my desire to study natural sciences. I studied Chemistry but specialized during my Master's and Ph.D. in Microbiology. I have studied bacteria metabolism and pathogenesis for the last ten years. I have presented research papers at conferences and published articles in peer-reviewed journals. My experience ranges from natural products produced by bacteria to microbiota and intestinal diseases. Now we are exploring antimicrobial resistance and its consequences in low-income countries. Antimicrobial resistance is a critical health problem that is expected to hit harder in developing countries. Therefore, it is essential to break the transmission of diseases. Flooding is associated with outbreaks of intestinal and skin diseases, but in Mexico, we do not know which critical pathogenic bacteria and antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms are present during flooding. We have conducted pilot experiments and found an alarming number of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. We want to stop the transmission of diseases and improve the life quality of families in Mexico City.

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