Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 21, pp 22190–22196 | Cite as

Occurrence and diversity of tetracycline resistance genes in the agricultural soils of South Korea

  • Song Yeob Kim
  • Saranya Kuppusamy
  • Jang Hwan Kim
  • Young-Eun Yoon
  • Kwon-Rae Kim
  • Yong Bok LeeEmail author
Short Research and Discussion Article


Reports on the occurrence and diversity of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genes, which are considered to be emerging pollutants worldwide, have, to date, not been published on South Korean agricultural soils. This is the first study to investigate the persistence of tetracycline (oxytetracycline, tetracycline, and chlortetracycline)-resistant bacterial community and genes in natural and long-term fertilized (NPK, pig, and cattle manure composts) agricultural soils in South Korea. The results showed that oxytetracycline and chlortetracycline could be the dominant residues in animal manures; regular fertilization of manures, particularly pig manures, may be the prime cause for the spread and abundance of tetracycline resistance in South Korean agricultural soils. Both the country’s natural and agricultural soils are reservoirs of antibiotic-resistant species. Of the 113 tetracycline-resistant isolates identified (19 typical bacterial genera and 36 distinct species), approximately 40 to 99 % belonged to Gram-positive bacteria and Bacillus constituted the predominant genera. Of the 24 tet genes targeted, tetG, tetH, tetK, tetY, tetO, tetS, tetW, and tetQ were detected in all soil samples, highlighting their predominance and robust adaptability in soils. Meanwhile, it is suggested that tetC, tetE, tetZ, tetM, tetT, and tetP(B) are the common residues in pig manures, and furthermore, the treatment of soils with pig manures may wield a different impact on the tet gene resistome in agricultural soils. This study thus highlights the necessity for regulating the usage of tetracyclines in South Korean animal farming. This must be followed by proper monitoring of the subsequent usage of animal manures especially that derived from pig farms located in agricultural soils.


Tetracycline Antibiotic-resistant bacteria Tet genes Livestock manure compost Long-term fertilization 



This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2015R1A6A1A03031413).

Supplementary material

11356_2016_7574_MOESM1_ESM.doc (63 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 63 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Song Yeob Kim
    • 1
  • Saranya Kuppusamy
    • 1
  • Jang Hwan Kim
    • 2
  • Young-Eun Yoon
    • 2
  • Kwon-Rae Kim
    • 3
  • Yong Bok Lee
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Agriculture and Life ScienceGyeongsang National UniversityJinjuRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Division of Applied Life Science (BK21 Plus)Gyeongsang National UniversityJinjuRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Department of Agronomy and Medicinal Plant ResourcesGyeongnam National University of Science and TechnologyJinjuRepublic of Korea

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