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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Bowling Green, Kentucky » Food Animal Environmental Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #302281

Title: Pathogens, indicators and antibiotic resistance genes in soils with land applied poultry litter

item Cook, Kimberly - Kim
item GILFILLEN, R - Western Kentucky University
item NETTHISINGHE, A.M. - Western Kentucky University
item WOOSLEY, PAUL - Western Kentucky University

Submitted to: International Association for Food Protection Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/17/2014
Publication Date: 8/3/2014
Citation: Cook, K.L., Gilfillen, R.A., Netthisinghe, A.P., Woosley, P. 2014. Pathogens, indicators and antibiotic resistance genes in soils with land applied poultry litter. International Association for Food Protection Proceedings. August 3-4, 2014. Indianapolis, Indiana.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Poultry litter (PL) is a by-product of broiler production most of which is land applied where it is a valuable nutrient source for crop production. PL can also be a route of contamination with manure-borne bacteria; in fact, two of the top causes of foodborne illness, Campylobacter sp. and Salmonella sp. are found in association with poultry and poultry litters. The objective of this two year field study was to characterize the fate of naturally occurring pathogens, fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) and bacteria containing antibiotic resistance genes (ARG) following application of PL to soils under conventional till (CT) or no (NT) till management. Microbial populations were quantified using a combination of culture and quantitative, real-time (qPCR) analysis. Initial concentrations of Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni) in PL were 5.4 ± 3.2 X 106 cells per gram PL; Salmonella sp. was not detected in the PL, but was enriched periodically from PL amended soils (particularly CT soils). Escherichia coli (E. coli) was detected in PL (1.5 ± 1.3 X 102 culturable or 1.5 ± 0.3 X 107 genes per gram) but was rarely detected in field soils while enterococci (1.5 ± 0.5 X 108 cells per gram PL) were detected throughout the study. These results suggest that enterococci may be better FIB for field applied PL. Within one or two days of PL application, concentrations of ARG for sulfonamide and tetracycline resistance increased orders of magnitude above background and remained elevated for the duration of the study. Data suggest that application rates (including bacterial load and nutrients) and re-application had more influence on microbial populations than did CT or NT management of soils. These data provide new knowledge about survival of important FIB, pathogens, and ARG associated with PL applied under realistic field-based conditions.