Antibacterial activity of soil-bound antibiotics

Yogesh Chander, Kuldip Kumar, Sagar M. Goyal, Satish C. Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


There is some concern that antibiotic residues in land-applied manure may promote the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the environment. The goal of this study was to determine whether or not soil bound antibiotics are still active against bacteria. The procedure involved sorbing various amounts of tetracycline or tylosin on two different textured soils (Webster clay loam [fine-loamy, mixed, superactive, mesic Typic Endoaquolls] and Hubbard loamy sand [sandy, mixed, frigid Entic Hapludolls]), incubating these soils with three different bacterial cultures (an antibiotic resistant strain of Salmonella sp. [SalmonellaR], an antibiotic sensitive strain of Salmonella sp. [SalmonellaS], and Escherichia coli ATCC 25922), and then enumerating the number of colony forming units relative to the control. Incubation was done under both static and dynamic conditions. Soil-adsorbed antibiotics were found to retain their antimicrobial properties since both antibiotics inhibited the growth of all three bacterial species. Averaged over all other factors, soil adsorbed antimicrobial activity was higher for Hubbard loamy sand than Webster clay loam, most likely due to higher affinity (higher clay content) of the Webster soil for antibiotics. Similarly, there was a greater decline in bacterial growth with tetracycline than tylsoin, likely due to greater amounts of soil-adsorbed tetracycline and also due to lower minimum inhibitory concentration of most bacteria for tetracycline than tylosin. The antimicrobial effect of tetracycline was also greater under dynamic than static growth conditions, possibly because agitation under dynamic growth conditions helped increase tetracycline desorption and/or increase contact between soil adsorbed tetracycline and bacteria. We conclude that even though antibiotics are tightly adsorbed by clay particles, they are still biologically active and may influence the selection of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the terrestrial environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1952-1957
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005


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