The goal of this study was to determine the fate of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and class 1 integrons following the application of swine and dairy manure to soil. Soil microcosms were amended with either manure from swine fed subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics or manure from dairy cows that were given antibiotics only rarely and strictly for veterinary purposes. Microcosms were monitored for 6 months using quantitative PCR targeting 16S rRNA genes (a measure of bacterial biomass), intI1, erm (B), tet (A), tet (W) and tet (X). Swine manure had 10- to 100-fold higher levels of ARGs than the dairy manure, all of which decayed over time after being applied to soil. A modified Collins-Selleck model described the decay of ARGs in the soil microcosms well, particularly the characteristic in which the decay rate declined over time. By the completion of the soil microcosm experiments, ARGs in the dairy manure-amended soils returned to background levels, whereas the ARGs in swine manure remained elevated compared to control microcosms. Our research suggests that the use of subtherapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed could lead to the accumulation of ARGs in soils to which manure is applied.
- Antibiotic resistance