This paper came out just about the same time as the PhD position with Erik Kristiansson where I will be co-supervisor was announced, and I did not want to steal that thunder with another news item, but it is now time to highlight the fantastic work of Víctor Hugo Jarquín-Díaz on antibiotic resistance genes in the gut microbiomes of mice across a gradient of pure and hybrid genotypes in the European house mouse hybrid zone. This came out in mid-April in ISME Communications and presents the interesting hypothesis that hybridisation not only shapes bacterial communities, but also antibiotic resistance gene occurrences (1).

This study is based on 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing of gut bacteria in natural populations of house mice. From this we have predicted the antibiotic resistance gene composition in the microbiomes, and found a significant increase in the predicted antibiotic resistance gene richness in hybrid mice. In other words, more and different antibiotic resistance genes were found in the hybrid mice than in the non-hybridised individuals. We believe that this could be due to a disruption of the microbiome composition in hybrid mice. The aberrant microbiomes in hybrids represent less complex communities, potentially promoting selection for resistance.

It deserves to be mentioned that this is more of a pilot study, which we hope to follow up with a more proper study targeting the resistance genes in the mice microbiomes. That said, our work suggests that host genetic variation impacts the gut microbiome and antibiotic resistance gene, at least in mice. This raises further questions on how the mammalian host genetics impact antibiotic resistance carriage in bacteria via microbiome dynamics or interaction with the environment.

I am very happy to have been part of this EMBARK collaboration with the Sofia Forslund-Startceva and Emanuel Heitlinger labs! And I am especially thankful to Víctor who pulled off this very thought-inducing study!


  1. Jarquín-Díaz VH, Ferreira SCM, Balard A, Ďureje Ľ, Macholán M, Piálek J, Bengtsson-Palme J, Kramer-Schadt S, Forslund-Startceva SK, Heitlinger E: Aberrant microbiomes are associated with increased antibiotic resistance gene load in hybrid mice. ISME Communications, ycae053 (2024). doi: 10.1093/ismeco/ycae053 [Paper link]