Non-responder phenotype reveals apparent microbiome-wide antibiotic tolerance in the murine gut.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Commun Biol


washington; seattle; isb


Broad spectrum antibiotics cause both transient and lasting damage to the ecology of the gut microbiome. Antibiotic-induced loss of gut bacterial diversity has been linked to susceptibility to enteric infections. Prior work on subtherapeutic antibiotic treatment in humans and non-human animals has suggested that entire gut communities may exhibit tolerance phenotypes. In this study, we validate the existence of these community tolerance phenotypes in the murine gut and explore how antibiotic treatment duration or a diet enriched in antimicrobial phytochemicals might influence the frequency of this phenotype. Almost a third of mice exhibited whole-community tolerance to a high dose of the β-lactam antibiotic cefoperazone, independent of antibiotic treatment duration or dietary phytochemical amendment. We observed few compositional differences between non-responder microbiota during antibiotic treatment and the untreated control microbiota. However, gene expression was vastly different between non-responder microbiota and controls during treatment, with non-responder communities showing an upregulation of antimicrobial tolerance genes, like efflux transporters, and a down-regulation of central metabolism. Future work should focus on what specific host- or microbiome-associated factors are responsible for tipping communities between responder and non-responder phenotypes so that we might learn to harness this phenomenon to protect our microbiota from routine antibiotic treatment.

Clinical Institute

Digestive Health


Institute for Systems Biology


Swedish Digestive Health Institute