Safely Coupling Livestock and Crop Production Systems: How Rapidly Do Antibiotic Resistance Genes Dissipate in Soil Following a Commercial Application of Swine or Dairy Manure?

Marti, R., Tien, Y.C., Murray, R.L., Scott, A., Sabourin, L., and Topp, E. (2014). "Safely Coupling Livestock and Crop Production Systems: How Rapidly Do Antibiotic Resistance Genes Dissipate in Soil Following a Commercial Application of Swine or Dairy Manure?", Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 80(10), pp. 3258-3265. doi : 10.1128/AEM.00231-14  Access to full text

Abstract

Animal manures recycled onto crop production land carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The present study evaluated the fate in soil of selected genes associated with antibiotic resistance or genetic mobility in field plots cropped to vegetables, and managed according to normal farming practice. Referenced to unmanured soil, fertilization with swine or dairy manure increased the relative abundance of the gene targets sul1, erm(B), str(B), int1 and IncW repA. Following manure application in the spring of 2012 gene copy number decayed exponentially, reaching background levels by the fall of 2012. In contrast, gene copy number following manure application in the fall of 2012, or spring of 2013 increased significantly in the weeks following application, and then declined. In both latter cases the relative abundance of gene copy numbers had not returned to background levels by the fall of 2013. Overall, these results suggest that under conditions characteristic of agriculture in a humid continental climate, a one year period following a commercial application of raw manure is sufficient to ensure that an additional soil burden of antibiotic resistance genes approaches background. The relative abundance of several gene targets exceeded background during the growing season following a spring application, or an application done the previous fall. Results from the present study reinforce the advisability of treating manure prior to use in crop production systems.

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