Effect of tetracycline treatment regimens on antibiotic resistance gene selection over time in nursery pigs

Kaare Græsbøll, Inge Larsen, Julie Clasen, Anna Camilla Birkegård, Jens Peter Nielsen, Lasse Engbo Christiansen, John Elmerdahl Olsen, Øystein Angen, Anders Folkesson*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The majority of antimicrobials given during the production of pigs are given to nursery pigs. The influence of antimicrobial use on the levels of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) genes is important to quantify to be able to assess the impact of resistance on the food chain and risk to human and animal health.
This study investigated the response on the levels of nine AMR genes to five different treatment strategies with oxytetracycline, and the dynamics of gene abundance over time by following 1167 pigs from five different farms in Denmark.
The results showed no significant difference between treatments and an increase in abundance for the efflux pump encoding tet(A) gene and the genes encoding the ribosomal protection proteins tet(O) and tet(W) tetracycline resistant genes following treatment, while tet(M) showed no response to treatment. However, it was also observed that the levels of tet(O), tet(W), and ermB in some farms would drift more over time compared to a single treatment-course with antibiotic.
This study underlines the large variation in AMR levels under natural conditions and the need for increased investigation of the complex interactions of antimicrobial treatment and other environmental and managerial practices in swine production on AMR gene abundance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number269
JournalBMC Microbiology
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Oxytetracycline
  • Resistance genes
  • qPCR
  • Nursery pigs


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