Destina Mattrasingh-Williams

Role: Conference Bursary Recipient

Department: Pathobiology

Conference Attended: International Symposium for Salmonella and Salmonellosis

Location: Saint-Malo, France

Value: $2,380.00

Research Presentation: 

Animal agriculture is consistently challenged by the spread of AMR, this is particularly significant for foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella in which the development of AMR has potentially dire impacts on human health. Plasmids and other mobile genetic elements (MGEs) carrying AMR genes are largely responsible for the prevalence of AMR. Microbial communities contain these AMR-carrying plasmids not only within the pathogenic bacteria targeted by government surveillance but within the commensal bacteria which do not directly affect human health. These non-surveyed bacteria are essentially a reservoir of AMR within animal agriculture that may represent ‘blind spots’ of public health surveillance efforts. My research aims to characterize the plasmids within mixed Salmonella and other Enterobacterales enrichments from swine feces using proximity ligation (Hi-C) sequencing to explore plasmid diversity about the swine gut community. This will be coupled with bioinformatic analysis to identify and annotate smaller MGEs associated with virulence and AMR genes. FfT research in Pathogens and Food Safety encompasses this research objective which uses big data analytics to characterize microbial communities in animal agriculture to improve food safety. The project clarifies the microcosms (bacterial and the associated MGEs) found in the swine gut to improve zoonotic disease surveillance in livestock.

Objectives for Attending: 

and results obtained by that time. My research methods are not commonly used, but together can be used to associate more diverse microbial communities with their corresponding plasmid dynamics. The results achieved through these methods could impact public health surveillance tools and should be open to speculation and contribution from public health specialists around the world. One-Health surveillance of Salmonella outbreaks is a larger objective of my research and one that is highlighted in the conference. Another objective I have for this conference is to gain a thorough perspective of the efforts being made across the globe to monitor and proactively combat outbreaks of this zoonotic disease. Although my project does not solely aim to monitor Salmonella, these methods and tools can be stretched to multiple foodborne illness agents. Finally, the bioinformatic analysis of the specific sequencing method I am using is novel to myself and my research groups. I hope to make contacts about this aspect of my research who may be able to collaborate with our research group at the University of Guelph.