Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fayetteville, Arkansas » Poultry Production and Product Safety Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #374451

Research Project: Quantifying Air and Water Quality Benefits of Improved Poultry Manure Management Practices

Location: Poultry Production and Product Safety Research

Title: Antibiotic resistance gene prevalence in soils due to animal manure deposition and long-term pasture management

Author
item YANG, YICHAO - University Of Arkansas
item Ashworth, Amanda
item DEBRUYN, JENNIFER - University Of Tennessee
item Durso, Lisa
item SAVIN, MARY - University Of Arkansas
item Cook, Kimberly - Kim
item Moore, Philip
item Owens, Phillip

Submitted to: PeerJ
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/6/2020
Publication Date: 11/3/2020
Citation: Yang, Y., Ashworth, A.J., DeBruyn, J., Durso, L.M., Savin, M., Cook, K.L., Moore Jr, P.A., Owens, P.R. 2020. Antibiotic resistance gene prevalence in soils due to animal manure deposition and long-term pasture management. PeerJ. 8:e10258. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.10258.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.10258

Interpretive Summary: Land applications of poultry litter and cattle manure is an effective and common way to recycle nutrients back to soils and increase crop yields. However, animal manure applications may introduce antimicrobial resistance genes into the soil, because antibiotics usage is an essential component of conventional poultry and bovine production for treating microbial infections and may pass undegraded through animals. Conservation management practices such as un-grazed riparian filter strips and rotational grazing may minimize the prevalence and movement of antibiotic resistance genes from manure applications—to soils—to water runoff. A team of researchers set out to evaluate if long-term best management practices may reduce the spread of known anthropogenic antibiotic resistant genes to the environment. Their study found that conservation management practices reduced antibiotic resistant genes in soils and that cattle manure hosted a greater abundance of resistant genes compared to poultry litter. These results further support the implementation of best management practices for their ability to reduce soil erosion and improve water quality, while minimizing resistant gene movement to the environment for sustained environmental and human health.

Technical Abstract: The persistence of antibiotic resistant (AMR) genes in the soil-environment is a concern, yet practices that mitigate AMR are poorly understood, especially in grasslands (the largest agricultural land use in the US). Animal manures, which are valuable sources of nutrients, may also contain AMR genes and residues. The aim of this study was to enumerate AMR bacteria and genes in grassland soils following 14-years of poultry litter and cattle manure deposition and evaluate if pasture management [hayed (H), continuously grazed (CG), rotationally grazed with a fenced riparian buffer (RBR), and a fenced riparian buffer strip (RBS), which excluded cattle grazing and poultry litter applications] impacted the presence and amount of AMR genes. Quantitative PCR (Q-PCR) were performed to enumerate four AMR genes (ermB, sulI, intlI, and blactx-m-32) in soil, cattle manure, and poultry litter environments. Six soil samples were additionally subjected to metagenomic sequencing and resistance genes were identified from assembled sequences. Following 14-years of continuous management, ermB, sulI, and intlI genes had the highest abundances in soil (P<0.05) following long-term continuous grazing (relative to conservation best management practices), suggesting overgrazing and continuous cattle manure deposition may increase AMR gene presence. In general, AMR gene prevalence increased downslope, suggesting potential lateral movement and accumulation based on landscape position. Additionally, soil sulI and intlI gene abundance increased following poultry litter applications, however, ermB, sulI, and intlI had greater gene copy abundances per gram dry weight in cattle manure than poultry litter (P<0.05). Similarly, metagenomic shotgun sequencing revealed a greater total number of AMR genes under long-term CG systems, while fewer AMR genes were found in H (no cattle manure) and RBS (no cattle manure or poultry litter). These results illustrate that manure and conservation pasture management practices (e.g. RBS and RBR) may minimize the presence and number of AMR genes in grassland soils.