Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 763–776 | Cite as

Toxic effects of oxytetracycline and copper, separately or combined, on soil microbial biomasses

Original Paper


The production of commercial livestock and poultry often involves using with antibiotics and feed additives, such as oxytetracycline (OTC) and copper (Cu). These are often excreted into the soil by animal feces; hence, combined pollutants may contaminate the soil. To evaluate single and combined toxic effects of OTC and Cu on the soil ecology, changes in quantities of bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes in the soil were studied over a 28-d incubation period by a plate count method, microbes numbers counted on days 7, 14, 21, and 28. Abundances of ammonia monooxygenase (amoA) gene expression by ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) in soil samples also were tested by real-time polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCRs) on day 21. The results revealed that the numbers of bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes and amoA genes copies of AOA and AOB were reduced seriously by exposure to Cu (1.60 mmol/kg). Similarly, the combined pollution treatments (mole ratios of OTC: Cu was 1:2, 1:8, and 1:32) also had inhibitory effect on bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes numbers and amoA gene copies of AOA and AOB; the inhibitory rate was on obvious growth trend with the increasing mole ratios. Effects from single OTC pollution were found on bacteria (days 7 and 14), fungi (days 7, 14, 21, and 28), and AOA-amoA gene copies (day 21), with promotion at a low concentration (0.05 mmol/kg) and suppression at higher concentrations (0.2 and 0.8 mmol/kg). Also, numbers of bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes decreased with longer culture times. Combining OTC and Cu led to a higher inhibition of soil microbes than when either chemical was used alone. However, there was no significant relationship between single and combined toxic chemicals because of their complicated interactions, either antagonistic or synergistic. The results also indicated the sensitivity of bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes on toxic chemicals existed difference and that the AOA were more tolerant than the AOB to these chemicals.


Oxytetracycline Copper Soil microbes RT-PCR Ammonia-oxidizing archaea Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria 



The present study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Nos. 41671320 and 21377075]; the National Science and Technology Major Project of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China [Nos. 2016YFD0201203, 2016YFD0800202, 2016YFD0800304]; the Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province, China [No. ZR2016JL02]; and the Special Funds of Taishan Scholar of Shandong Province, China. We also thank Cliff G. Martin for review of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lanjun Wang
    • 1
  • Jinhua Wang
    • 1
  • Lusheng Zhu
    • 1
  • Jun Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Resources and Environment, Key Laboratory of Agricultural Environment in Universities of ShandongShandong Agricultural UniversityTaianPeople’s Republic of China

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