A metagenomic glimpse into the gut of wild and domestic animals: Quantification of antimicrobial resistance and more

Magdalena Skarżyńska*, Pimlapas Leekitcharoenphon, Rene S. Hendriksen, Frank Møller Aarestrup, Dariusz Wasyl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria is a complex subject, why one need to look at this phenomenon from a wider and holistic perspective. The extensive use of the same antimicrobial classes in human and veterinary medicine as well as horticulture is one of the main drivers for the AMR selection. Here, we applied shotgun metagenomics to investigate the AMR epidemiology in several animal species including farm animals, which are often exposed to antimicrobial treatment opposed to an unique set of wild animals that seems not to be subjected to antimicrobial pressure. The comparison of the domestic and wild animals allowed to investigate the possible anthropogenic impact on AMR spread. Inclusion of animals with different feeding behaviors (carnivores, omnivores) enabled to further assess which AMR genes that thrives within the food chain. We tested fecal samples not only of intensively produced chickens, turkeys, and pigs, but also of wild animals such as wild boars, red foxes, and rodents. A multi-directional approach mapping obtained sequences to several databases provided insight into the occurrence of the different AMR genes. The method applied enabled also analysis of other factors that may influence AMR of intestinal microbiome such as diet. Our findings confirmed higher levels of AMR in farm animals than in wildlife. The results also revealed the potential of wildlife in the AMR dissemination. Particularly in red foxes, we found evidence of several AMR genes conferring resistance to critically important antimicrobials like quinolones and cephalosporins. In contrast, the lowest abundance of AMR was observed in rodents originating from natural environment with presumed limited exposure to antimicrobials. Shotgun metagenomics enabled us to demonstrate that discrepancies between AMR profiles found in the intestinal microbiome of various animals probably resulted from the different antimicrobial exposure, habitats, and behavior of the tested animal species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0242987
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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