Population-level impacts of antibiotic usage on the human gut microbiome
The widespread usage of antimicrobials has driven the evolution of resistance in pathogenic microbes, both increased prevalence of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) and their spread across species by horizontal gene transfer (HGT). However, the impact on the wider community of commensal microbes associated with the human body, the microbiome, is less well understood. Small-scale studies have determined the transient impacts of antibiotic consumption but we conduct an extensive survey of ARGs in 8972 metagenomes to determine the population-level impacts. Focusing on 3096 gut microbiomes from healthy individuals not taking antibiotics we demonstrate highly significant correlations between both the total ARG abundance and diversity and per capita antibiotic usage rates across ten countries spanning three continents. Samples from China were notable outliers.
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