Fertilizing with animal manure disseminates antibiotic resistance genes to the farm environment

Matti Ruuskanen, Johanna Muurinen, Axel Meierjohann, Katariina Pärnänen, Manu Tamminen, Christina Lyra, Leif Kronberg, Marko Virta

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52 Citations (Scopus)


The dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes to the environment is an important factor causing increased prevalence of resistant pathogens. Manure is an important fertilizer, but it contains diverse resistance genes. Therefore, its application to fields may lead to increased abundance of resistance genes in the environment. Farming environments exposed to animal manure have not been studied extensively in countries with comparably low antibiotic use, such as Finland. The effects of manure storage and application to fields on the abundance of resistance genes were studied on two dairy cattle farms and two swine farms in southern Finland. Samples were taken from farms during the 2013 cropping season. Copy numbers of carbapenem (blaOXA-58), sulfonamide (sul1), and tetracycline (tetM) resistance genes were measured with quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and the data were analyzed using linear mixed models. The relative abundance of antibiotic resistance genes increased about fourfold in soil after manure application. Carbapenemase encoding blaOXA-58 was detected on all of the studied farms, which indicated that the gene is dispersed in the farm environment. The relative abundance of antibiotic resistance genes increased in stored manure compared with fresh manure roughly fivefold. This study shows that antibiotic resistance genes are disseminated on Finnish production animal farms. The spreading of resistance genes in farm-associated environments could possibly be limited by experimenting with new manure handling methods that could reduce the abundance of the genes in manure used for land application.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)488–493
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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