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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria and associated human morbidity and mortality is increasing. Use of antimicrobials in livestock selects for AMR that can subsequently be transferred to humans. This flow of AMR between reservoirs demands surveillance in livestock as well as in humans. As part of the EFFORT project (www.effort-against-amr.eu), we have quantified and characterized the acquired resistance gene pools (resistomes) of 181 pig and 178 poultry farms from nine European countries, generating more than 5,000 gigabases of DNA sequence, using shotgun metagenomics. We quantified acquired AMR using the ResFinder database and a database constructed for this study, consisting of AMR genes identified through screening environmental DNA. The pig and poultry resistomes were very different in abundance and composition. There was a significant country effect on the resistomes, more so in pigs than poultry. We found higher AMR loads in pigs, while poultry resistomes were more diverse. We detected several recently described, critical AMR genes, including mcr-1 and optrA, the abundance of which differed both between host species and countries. We found that the total acquired AMR level, was associated with the overall country-specific antimicrobial usage in livestock and that countries with comparable usage patterns had similar resistomes. Novel, functionally-determined AMR genes were, however, not associated with total drug use.

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