Longitudinal screening of antibiotic residues, antibiotic resistance genes and zoonotic bacteria in soils fertilized with pig manure

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


Fertilization with animal manure is one of the main routes responsible for the introduction of antibiotic residues, antibiotic resistance genes, and zoonotic bacteria into the environment. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of the use of pig (swine) manure as a fertilizer on the presence and fate of six antibiotic residues, nine antibiotic resistance genes, and bacteria (zoonotic bacteria Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp. and E. coli as indicator for Gram-negative bacterial species of the microbiota of livestock) on five fields. To the best of our knowledge, the present study is the first to assess a multitude of antibiotic residues and resistance to several classes of antibiotics in pig manure and in fertilized soil over time in a region with an intensive pig industry (Flanders, Belgium). The fields were sampled at five consecutive time points, starting before fertilization up to harvest. Low concentrations of antibiotic residues could be observed in the soils until harvest. The antibiotic resistance genes studied were already present at background levels in the soil environment prior to fertilization, but after fertilization with pig manure, an increase in relative abundance was observed for most of them, followed by a decline back to background levels by harvest-time on all of the fields studied. No apparent differences regarding the presence of antibiotic resistance genes in soils were observed between those fertilized with manure that either contained antibiotic residues or not. With regard to dissemination of resistance, the results presented in this study confirm that fertilization with animal manure directly adds resistance genes to the soil. In addition, it shows that this direct mechanism may be more important than possible selective pressure in soil-dwelling bacteria exerted by antibiotic residues present in the manure. These results also indicate that zoonotic bacteria detected in the manure could be detected in the soil environment directly after fertilization, but not after 1 month. In conclusion, although some antibiotic residues may be present in both manure and soil at concentrations to exert selective pressure, it seems that antibiotic resistance is mostly introduced directly to soil through fertilization with animal manure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number22
Pages (from-to)28016-28029
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Longitudinal screening of antibiotic residues, antibiotic resistance genes and zoonotic bacteria in soils fertilized with pig manure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this