Evolution of the murine gut resistome following broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment

The emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) represent an ever-growing healthcare challenge worldwide. Nevertheless, the mechanisms and timescales shaping this resistome remain elusive. Using an antibiotic cocktail administered to a murine model along with a longitudinal sampling strategy, we identify the mechanisms by which gut commensals acquire antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) after a single antibiotic course. While most of the resident bacterial populations are depleted due to the treatment, Akkermansia muciniphila and members of the Enterobacteriaceae, Enterococcaceae, and Lactobacillaceae families acquire resistance and remain recalcitrant. We identify specific genes conferring resistance against the antibiotics in the corresponding metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) and trace their origins within each genome. Here we show that, while mobile genetic elements (MGEs), including bacteriophages and plasmids, contribute to the spread of ARGs, integrons represent key factors mediating AMR in the antibiotic-treated mice.

Our findings suggest that a single course of antibiotics alone may act as the selective sweep driving ARG acquisition and incidence in gut commensals over a single mammalian lifespan.