The publicly available tool, designed mainly for public health officials, academics and researchers who are using new genomics technologies to track and treat infectious diseases, provides visually informative displays of antibiotic resistance genes in bacteria. The interactive interface gives users the ability to customize visualizations by antibiotic drug class, compare resistance genes across different sources, identify new resistance genes, and map selected resistance genes to geographic region.
Whole genome sequencing (WGS) allows researchers to determine the complete DNA sequence of a bacterium. This provides a wealth of information on different traits in microorganisms that were not easily available previously. FDA scientists have used these new sequencing technologies to show that for the bacteria targeted in the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS), antibiotic resistance can be predicted with a high degree of confidence from the DNA sequence (McDermott, et al., Zhao et al). Antibiotic resistance in foodborne bacteria can now be tracked where traditional laboratory resistance data are not available — just by examining the DNA.
Resistome Tracker also provides alerts regarding new resistance traits as they emerge in a region or source to provide early warning on emergent trends. The tool represents major forward progress in resistance monitoring that will enhance the scientific foundation for the FDA and others when evaluating the impact of antibiotic use on the evolution and spread of resistance.
Resistome Tracker currently focuses on antibiotic resistance genes in Salmonella. The Salmonella sequences from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) public databases are uploaded on a weekly basis, allowing near real-time monitoring of antibiotic resistance. Currently included are data on 97,390 genomes from NCBI, 27,512 of which are US isolates and 8,900 are isolates from the NARMS. E. coli and Campylobacter will be included on future iterations of the tool, as well as additional gene categories such as serotype, sequence type and virulence genes.