The antimicrobial resistome in relation to antimicrobial use and biosecurity in pig farming, a metagenome-wide association study in nine European countries

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Previous studies in food-producing animals have shown associations between antimicrobial use (AMU) and resistance (AMR) in specifically isolated bacterial species. Multi-country data are scarce and only describe between-country differences. Here we investigate associations between the pig faecal mobile resistome and characteristics at the farm-level across Europe. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 176 conventional pig farms from nine European countries. Twenty-five faecal samples from fattening pigs were pooled per farm and acquired resistomes were determined using shotgun metagenomics and the Resfinder reference database, i.e. the full collection of horizontally acquired AMR genes (ARGs). Normalized fragments resistance genes per kilobase reference per million bacterial fragments (FPKM) were calculated. Specific farm-level data (AMU, biosecurity) were collected. Random-effects meta-analyses were performed by country, relating farm-level data to relative ARG abundances (FPKM). Total AMU during fattening was positively associated with total ARG (total FPKM). Positive associations were particularly observed between widely used macrolides and tetracyclines, and ARGs corresponding to the respective antimicrobial classes. Significant AMU-ARG associations were not found for β-lactams and only few colistin ARGs were found, despite high use of these antimicrobial classes in younger pigs. Increased internal biosecurity was directly related to higher abundances of ARGs mainly encoding macrolide resistance. These effects of biosecurity were independent of AMU in mutually adjusted models. Using resistome data in association studies is unprecedented and adds accuracy and new insights to previously observed AMU-AMR associations. Major components of the pig resistome are positively and independently associated with on-farm AMU and biosecurity conditions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Volume74
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)865-876
ISSN0305-7453
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
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